September 18, 2007

Times Select - Dead of Neglect

The New York Times op-ed columnists have been unavailable online without a subscription for some time now....longer, no doubt, than it seems to me. Perhaps stung by their increasing irrelevance to any meaningful policy debate, and just now finding out how lucrative online advertising can be, the Times has decided to make their opinion writers free of charge online once again.

Since William Safire retired, I wouldn't click twice to read anyone they have except David Brooks anyway, so the decision means little to me personally. But I liked Dean Barnett's take on the decision:

What really bugs me is that this Edsel of an online adventure will convince a lot of people (people that matter like venture capitalist people) that you can’t make money in selling online content. Many analysts will conclude, “If the New York Times couldn’t do it, it can’t be done.” This couldn’t be more wrong. Just because no one has created a profitable model for selling on-line content yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually. And inevitably.

If there was an online magazine or newspaper that had James Lileks, Mark Steyn, Bill Kristol, Andrew Ferguson, John Podhoretz, Bill Simmons, Terry Teachout and Michael Yon contributing daily, I’d pay for it. A lot of other people would, too. The Times’ big failure wasn’t in thinking they could sell on-line opinion. Their failure was in thinking they could sell crappy and unoriginal on-line opinion.

Posted by dan at September 18, 2007 10:59 PM