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R.I.P. Times Select September 19, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in media, reminisces-2000.
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NYTimes is considered America’s most pre-eminent papers of record and naturally therefore, I thought highly of the paper growing up. And this was even before I had a chance to read it, which I only did in 2003 and that too not on a regular basis. Once I became a regular reader of the paper in 2004, I found myself not too much in agreement with their editorial positions.

That of course does not mean I will jettison the paper altogether (Much like my attitude towards The Hindu). I still thought they had some great material, especially some of the special features – Science Times on Tuesday, Technology/Business, their Modern Love column, not to mention Op-eds from David Brooks, Frank Rich, John Tierney, Paul Krugman (though Tom Friedman was waste of time). Their list of most emailed articles generally are a good point to start.

This ofcourse was until mid 2005 when much of NYTimes went paid. I was so addicted that I even paid $8 per month for a few months. And then one day I just let it pass.

Now though its back again. No, I am not paying them all over again. Infact, no one will. I am so glad this is happening.

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight tonight. The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives.

And why do this ?

What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

Amazing, isn’t it, just how powerful a driver of revenue and business models advertising can be ? Heck, thats where Google makes most of its money after all.

One of the unexpected benefits is the access to the NYTimes archives. In fact, I remember back in 2004-05 as a subscriber to the Time Magazine, I found that the magazine issues were less interesting an offering compared to the unlimited access to their archives. I would just go search for “India” in issues from June 1947 to Sep 1947. Or the issue soon after Gandhi’s death, Emergency (June 1975) and see just what was being said.

Linked from here.

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