Bold Move

Could have told them two years ago that Times Select would do more harm than good:

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Website

The bosses at the old job had us set up a similar walled-garden movement that was later abandoned for similar reasons (lost eyeballs ultimately = lost ad revenue). Opinion’s a commodity online (see this blog?) so charging for it didn’t make a lot of sense, particularly when so many people are out there searching for Paul Krugman, Frank Rich or Maureen Dowd’s latest. That’s lots of eyeballs that are going to bail out the minute they hit that subscription wall.

Letting the archives go for free is an interesting one. Post-1995-or-so content—after the web really came into force—makes sense to give out as free, but people will pay a small fee for research purposes if you want to charge for the pre-1996 stuff. And even if they did give it all out for free, as a researcher, I’m probably going to that publication’s site looking for one specific thing, and I’m unlikely to go, “Hey, while I’m here looking for a Times article from 1944, I think I’ll take a largely unrelated interest in their current events coverage, even though I’m not here for that purpose.” Sure, a small fee for individual articles is just a trickle, but it’s a trickle that you don’t have otherwise and that isn’t really costing you new users.

Regardless, smart. And that’s from someone making his living off of web media. What.

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