The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.Bootleg copies of Paul Krugman and Frank Rich were usually available on the Web but it was rare for anyone to bother with Dowd, Friedman or Brooks. I imagine they were the ones that were complaining.
After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.
While other online publications were abandoning subscriptions, the Times took the opposite approach in 2005 and began charging for access to well-known writers, including Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Thomas L. Friedman.
The decision, which also walled off access to archives and other content, was controversial almost from the start, with some of the paper's own columnists complaining that it limited their Web readership.
I think Ed Morrissey gets it right here:
TimesSelect belongs to a bygone era of gatekeeping that had become obsolete even before Pinch 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.I predicted at the time that TS would simply remove the Times columnists out of the discussion - make them irrelevant. Since that time I suspect the internet has made most pundits irrelevant so it may not really matter that much. It will be nice to be able to make fun of Tom Friedman and David Brooks again however.