New York Times Columnists Subscriber Only to charge for Op-Ed, other content as of Sept

The New York Times Co. (NYT) on Monday said that, starting in September, access to Op-Ed and certain of its top news columnists on the paper’s Web site will only be available through a fee of $49.95 a year. The service, known as TimesSelect, will also allow access to The Times’s online archives, early access to select articles on the site, and other features. Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive the service, the NYT said.

Kevin Drum writes, “I predict that’s going to go down with New Coke as one of the all-time bad marketing decisions in history.”

Julian Sanchez agrees, noting,

William Strunk once said that to air one’s views gratuitiously is to suggest that the demand for them is brisk. Well, in our age of blog, there’s a lot of gratuitous airing, and one can’t help but suspect that—if the laws of supply and demand hold—that makes it a less-than-propitious time to start trying to charge for 800-word opinion squibs.

Quite right. Julian discusses the value of the shared experience as part of what Big Name columnists brings.

My guess is that this won’t actually happen. Four months is an eternity in Internet time and the swarm this story will generate will likely persuade the management at the Times of the idiocy of this move. There are too many good columnists out there I don’t have time to read now. If the NYT doesn’t change course, they just make the winnowing process somewhat easier.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. charlotte says:

    I think its a GREAT idea. Blogs will be the BEST and CHEAPEST place to get the SAME or BETTER information. Columinst will flock to cyber space.

  2. Brian J. says:

    Hmm. Do you think that will prevent bloggers from the mockery generated when they link to Krugman, Dowd, et al? Is this a move to protect the columnists?