Thursday, September 29, 2005

Opinion and exclusivity. Over-valued?

The New York Times began to charge for some of its content last week. They had previously charged for archived articles over 7 days old. Last week they began Times Select, where one can access all content for $49.99 per year. The content which one has to pay for is the content that most people enjoy – Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Frank Rich.

Many of the columnists in the NYT are syndicated across the USA and indeed internationally. However the NYT had forgot to organise that those newspapers that include these NYT columnists did not include the columns in the web versions.

Maureen Dowd is now the number one search term on Technorati. Her column among others is being typed/scanned and shared via the blogosphere and I don’t think that there is much that the NYT can do about it. Although they are trying. Never Pay Retail is searching the web for the articles and also outlining the attempts by the NYT to stop other sources publishing the articles in online archives and syndicated services.

Jay Rosen writes about the whole saga and makes interesting points about whether making these columnists more exclusive to access decreases or increases their value as columnists. He also reflects on the fact that a growing number of people are turning to blogs for information and opinion – and that opinion is not Maureen’s or Franks. But it’s Instapundit’s or Atrios’s or Josh Marshall’s. Other pundits are refusing to quote NYT select columnists in their articles – I wonder will their value as columnists now decrease.

On Tuesday the NYT announced 500 job cuts. I doubt it is directly related but I wonder how the NYT can get this policy so wrong.

The Guardian is the most popular online newspaper in the world. It is free to access. All of it. They charge for a digital version – fancy schmancy looking version of the paper. But the articles and archive are free and Guardian Unlimited has a varied and interesting selection of online only content. (Free!) They say they won’t be going down the pay route for their columnists any time soon.

The Guardian is a paper I read, I purchase and I surf online. I am loyal to it. Faced with the choice of The Guardian or the Irish Times in the newsagents I will buy the Guardian. The IT charges for content online, I won’t subscribe and I now rarely buy the print copy. Go figure. (Ok Kevin Myers is another reason I don’t buy it much either but the G is a much better read!)


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