Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Free press - TimesSelect paid service to shut

CH-ch-ch-changes are brewing over at the New York Times. Word is already out, via leaks at the NY Post, that the editors intend to faze out the TimesSelect service, which required payment for online access to prime content like columnists and Op-Ed pieces. Less than a quarter million readers were willing to pay upfront, some $7.95 per month, for Maureen Dowd, William Safire, and the gang. The practice irritated many web-surfers, even though all the newspaper's hard copy subscribers were entitled to free access. Staff repeatedly had petitioned for an end to the elitist service, some news reports said.

Also, the staid Grey Lady has trimmed down to an industry standard width, starting in today's editions. Being an inch and a half slimmer will save $10 million in paper costs and make it easier to unfurl the newspaper in, say, coach class airplane seats. "Honey, they shrunk the Times"...chortled Editor & Publisher. So what if the nation's newspaper of record has a motto pledging to run "all the news that's fit to print"? These days the editor may be stretched just to print "all the news that fits." But now any reader can go online for free, though they will have to tolerate the ads.

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