The marquee columnists for The New York Times’ Op-Ed page – including Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich – generate lots of interest and discussion online. Now, the paper is hoping they’ll also generate something else: cash.
Beginning Monday, the Times will begin charging $49.95 a year to people who don’t get the paper delivered at home for access to those writers as well as other columnists for the Times’ business, metro and sports sections.
The new service called TimesSelect will also include access to the Times’ archives, early looks at some sections of the paper and online tools for tracking and storing articles from the Times Web site. The Times will still maintain a separate premium service for its crossword puzzles.
I understand that the New York Times needs to make money, but I doubt this is the best way to do it in the long run. The trend on the web has been toward free access to information, with advertising providing revenue. I predict that if the Times keeps this up, readers will find other, freely available columnists and bloggers, and the NYT columnists will be marginalized.
After all, supply will match demand, and the NYT columnists aren’t necessary. Even if they were: as the saying goes, graveyards are filled with necessary people.