March 14, 2005

Will the NYT cut off free access to its site?

The NYT contemplates charging for on-line access. Does this affect me? I've subscribed to the paper version for decades and have never considered giving it up and only reading on line. I see things in the paper copy that I would never find clicking around on the website. I like the real thing, the tactile reality of the newspaper spread out on the dining room table. But yes, it would affect me a lot, because reading the Times in the morning is the basis of blogging for me. I read and find things I want to talk about and then go to the website for the links. What a loss it would be if I couldn't link to the Times stories! I guess I would find what I wanted to write about by reading the NYT, then go on line and Google for a URL to some other news site so I could give my readers a link.

So don't do it, NYT! I know you're losing revenue, but I'd always heard the revenue was in the ads, and that the paper subscribers were only covering the cost of printing and paper and delivery. If that's true, the website should be free. But quite aside from that, the website needs to be free or the audience will slip away. I'd like to see you go further in the direction of free and make the archives available and Google-able. Then go to town with the ads.

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