May 17, 2005

"Special Voices."

Financially desperate, the NYT has decided to put what it calls its "Special Voices" behind a wall and make you pay admission. The "Special Voices" are the columnists: David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman, Bob Herbert, Nicholas Kristof, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, John Tierney.

I'm a longtime subscriber to the paper NYT, so I'll have access to the "Special Voices" without paying anything more, but the pay-wall nevertheless deters me from reading. Reading and blogging are a merged activity for me, and I'll invest my reading time in things I can link to. Perhaps the Times likes this. Those mean bloggers won't poke fun at Maureen anymore. She will be cosseted where old-fashioned readers can admire Mo's bon mots and Mo can can know there'll be no counter-mots.

The Times has obsessed so much about bloggers lately. One had to wonder which way they would go: will they embrace the blogosphere and interact with it, or will they go on the defensive? Now, we see, they've made the retrograde move. How very dull and stodgy of them! They tried to be trendy by publishing all those articles about blogging over the past year, yet now, they are cutting us off. The Times has been trying so hard to maintain a hip, youthful image for itself, and now its true, dinosauric nature is revealed.

UPDATE: Here's a Salon piece criticizing the Times. (Salon ought to know the effects of putting up a pay-wall.) Here's Kos on the subject -- anticipating missing Krugman and Rich. (Rich is fun to make fun of, but I never read Krugman.) Here's Atrios, predicting lots of money followed by lots of irrelevance. Links via Memeorandum. It looks as though only liberal bloggers care much about this. Is the Times unwittingly pushing young people away from liberal thinking?

11 comments:

Dirty Harry said...

I'd pay money NOT to read Krugman, MoDolt, etc...

And when I heard the opinon pages were subscription, my first thought was, "So, only the classifieds will be free?"

The best written paper in the country has no judgement whatsoever. Their voluntary march to irrelevance continues. Hopefully they will come out the other end wiser for it.

dax said...

I don't understand the rational for the continuing and growing insulation that is taking place at the Times. Who are they trying to insulate themselves from? The masses? Critics? How forward- thinking is that and do they actually believe they will succeed?
The NYT has never been questioned. They've never been "checked"
Now they are being questioned and "checked", and if this is their reaction then it reeks of insecure paranoia.

Lancelot said...

Newspapers need to make money, people. Circulation is falling. You can see why, with content available free on the internet.

I've always thought there was something weird about getting to read the work of such a wonderful writer as David Brooks for free.

Of course, this will reduce the Times influence dramatically. On the other hand, if the big papers start to retreat behind subscriber firewalls, there will be a lot more space for bloggers.

Dave said...

Ann--there are some right-of-center bloggers who have posted about this, including yours truly, Volokh's Orin Kerr, and Andrew Sullivan.

Mark Daniels said...

Ann:
This is very disappointing. For all the problems with the Times, I still love reading it. Their columnists, even when I don't agree with them, are interesting to read.

It seems to me that the Times and other paper-based news sources could be a lot more creative in using advertising as a means of generating revenue. I can't imagine that the loss of goodwill is going to warrant the revenue gained from this move.

I know that I won't pay to subscribe to their punditry...unless of course, they want to subscribe to my blog. I don't see that happening.

Mark

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Dave. I was relying on Memeorandum, which was just showing people who linked to the Salon article.

Adam said...

Were people complaining like this when the WSJ went subscription-only online?

Only the NYT has the clout to pull this off, and, frankly, newspapers have to find a way to charge for online content (or incentivize print subsciptions, which this does) to avoid dying.

Ultimately, I think microtransactions ($0.005 per article/page?) are the way to go, but until that can be done efficiently . . .

Dave said...

Ann: Understood. I realized you were relying on Memeorandum after I posted the comment and then clicked through to Memeonrandum.

Lesson: click on all the links before I comment!

dick said...

Adam,

I read the WSJ Opinion Journal every day as well as the opinion journal extracts which cover a lot more of the news part of the WSJ. The financial part of the WSJ is still pay but a lot of the news stuff is free and worth reading. The NY Times is going the opposite way by charging for the opinion part of the paper. That is fine. I won't pay for that because all it does is raise my blood pressure. Besides I can get the same articles from other sources.

rafinlay said...

The NYT is not cutting the bloggers off; it is cutting itself off from the bloggers.

tvykTJHr said...
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