While the matter of whether newspapers and other media outlets should charge for Internet content will never be settled, I’ve always found TimesSelect, the paywall that allows only paid online or print subscribers to access certain New York Times content, to be a penny-wise-pound-foolish affront.
While I have continued to buy the dead-tree edition of the Sunday Times, which has been a part of my life since I was a child, it didn’t take long before I no longer missed the op-ed columnists and other special features that hid behind the paywall the other six days of the week.
My experience seems to be fairly typical, because the New York Post reports (drum roll please!) that Times editors are thisclose to abandoning TimesSelect.
Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey’s take on this development in the making speaks volumes:
“TimesSelect belongs to a bygone era of gatekeeping that had become obsolete even before (Publisher) Pinch (Sulzberger) pinched off readership of his star columnists. It practically served as a monument to the Times’ sclerotic management. Hiding these columnists behind the Firewall of Sanity may have served a noble purpose in elevating the debate, but irrelevance became the chief consequence of the service. Without access to the opinion columns, no one cared any longer what the Times’ writers had to say.
“Now they want to free their stable of columnists from irrelevance. Perhaps it will help generate more readership for these writers, but I suspect that most people have found other columnists to put on their regular-read list. The Times will have to work pretty hard — and spend lots of money — to market these columnists to on-line readers who passed on paying $50 two years ago.
“When will the Sulzberger family trust start to rethink the Pinch regime, anyway?”