There had been hints of it from the corporates for weeks now, but it's official: The New York Times is going to start charging you to view very popular sections of its daily paper online in September (i.e., Dowd, Friedman, Krugman, Rich, Brooks, etc. aren't going to be free for the linking anymore). But at least most of the news articles will still be open to all with a browser.
With all the talk of declining newspaper readership, another one of the nation's flagships was bound to run up the banner of (some) premium daily content sooner or later. But it's still a little disappointing. I know, I know, I'm an avid media consumer; I shouldn't have a problem paying for my content, especially when it's stuff as good as the NYT usually churns out. But on the web, this will mean more pointless links for those hoping to discuss what these writers have to say. The same has been happening with the WSJ for a long time now. You may be able to read the Journal in hard copy and want to comment on it, but you don't automatically get online access as a part of the same deal. The only way I've found to link to such stories is to find someone who has full WSJ.com access and who has publicly linked an e-mailed copy of an article. (I'm sort of surprised this even works; perhaps they're looking for a way to foil this access as well.)
But here's something the $50-a-year NYT plan offers that WSJ doesn't: Print subscribers get access to the sampling of premium daily online content for no additional charge, unlike the Journal, which charges extra. So in a way, this TimesSelect product could be seen as a backdoor way to get users of NYT content to just suck it up and buy a physical-doorstep subscription. Hmm. Which includes the likes of me. Well, at least we have a few months to find money in the budget for it. (Budget? What budget!?!)
Oh, for those college days of free newspapers in the dorm each morning.