Dowd, Friedman, and Rich Free at Last

The New York Post reports that its upscale rival is ending its two-year-old experiment of charging for its least valuable content.

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.

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. The timing of when TimesSelect will shut down hinges on resolving software issues associated with making the switch to a free service, the source said.


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.

There’s not much I can say about this inevitability that I haven’t said before.

Kudos to Kevin Drum for the Best Headline about this announcement, “TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!” (I might have gone with, “Mr. Sulzberger Tear Down This Wall” in the interests of parallelism.)

Honorable mention to Stephen Green for Best Quip: “The question is, after two years, will anyone want to read Maureen Dowd even for free?”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Look at the bright side: it’ll give us more to complain about.