The New York Times announced this week that in September it would begin charging for part of its website content. While much of the NYTimes.com site would remain free to registered users, the Times will begin offering its columnists and opinion section to viewers for $49.95 a year.
Subscribers to this service, TimesSelect, will also get an “early look” at certain feature articles. But, most importantly, subscribers will have access to the Times archive, which heretofore has not been available except on a payment-per-article basis. Subscribers to the print edition of the Times will automatically have access to the TimesSelect service.
Steve Outing, editor of E-Media Tidbits on Poynter.org, has described the overall strategy as sound but has criticized the Times for putting its opinion section behind this wall. He predicts that the Times may not be able to sustain this.
Steve Yelvington, another contributor to E-Media Tidbits, has noted the petulancy of bloggers to this announcement but points out that including print subscribers automatically in this service seems to be the point. “By giving TimesSelect access to existing print subscribers, the New York Times clearly is undertaking a defensive maneuver targeted at shoring up the daily newspaper's circulation against defections to the Internet,” he says.
Whether or not the Times is successful with this move will be a signal to other newspapers as to what they might try in charging for their content.
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