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Friday, September 30, 2005

New York Times' paid online experiment criticized

Considered by some to be the ultimate test of whether or not newspaper websites will be able to charge for content in the future, the New York Times' pay model TimesSelect is receiving harsh criticism from loyal Times readers and of course, the blogosphere. Poynter's Steve Outing has received a number of emails slamming the Times' decision and concluded, "What I picked up from this pile of e-mail is that many people view the Times' columnists as fulfilling an important global public-service role, and that by publishing them freely on the Web for so many years, they spread ideas around the world that need to be read widely. The times is being judged on its mission of serving the public good, not shareholders... Something the times may have damaged here is its global impact." One of Outings' emails came from a devoted Times subscriber who said, "Yes, I can afford to subscribe to TimesSelect, but I will not. I have canceled my delivery of the paper, as well."


MediaBistro has an array of reader opinions, mostly negative, and a summary of the blogosphere's reaction - negative across the board. One blog says that the Times' is doing the rest of the online media world a favor by diminishing their dominant news presence on the Web with a paywall. Readers in general seem to agree that they'll be able to read opinions just as valued of those of the Times' columnists on other blogs and many are sure they'll be able to find the columnists somewhere on the Net anyways - which has happened, just look at Technorati's homepage. One reader even summed up the problem in a somewhat old fashioned, yet logical manner: "I can go to the library and read the NYT for free if I'm desperate."

Will readers eventually warm up to TimesSelect, or will this criticism force the Times to scrap the project?

Sources: Poynter, MediaBistro

Posted by john burke on September 30, 2005 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

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