September 18, 2005

(Comments on) A Letter from the Editor

The Nytimes editor, Leonard M. Apcar, posted the following letter on the nytimes site, announcing their TimesSelect service. Here is some line-by-line commentary on the letter.

On Monday, Sept. 19, NYTimes.com will launch a new subscription service, TimesSelect, an important step in the development of The New York Times.

On Monday, Sept. 19, the New York Times opens up TimesSelect, a service designed to block millions of readers from reading important commentary on issues concerning all Americans. At a time like this, when these voices need to be heard by as many people as possible, well, that's really too bad.

Subscribers to TimesSelect will have exclusive online access to many of our most influential columnists in Op-Ed, Business, New York/Region and Sports.

And people who choose not to subscribe will not. Or maybe they still can... Don't underestimate the power of the blog...

In addition to reading the columns, TimesSelect subscribers can also engage with our columnists through video interviews and Web-only postings.

You should have kept the columns free, but added the "engage with columnists" as the for-fee service. That would have struck a better balance. Actually, I doubt the engaging with columnists will be useful or interesting. It almost never is. Columnists are busy. How are they suddenly going to have time to engage with readers? I'd rather engage with them through their blogs. Oh. You don't let them have blogs, do you, Leonard.

All of our news, features, editorials and analysis will remain free to readers of NYTimes.com, as will our interactive graphics, multimedia and popular video minutes.
I come to the site mainly for the columnists. Maybe the occasional article, but mainly the columnists. I have for nine? ten? years, having signed up for nytimes.com way back when it initially launched. Oh well. So much for visiting nytimes.com.

As part of TimesSelect, The Times is also opening up its vast archive of articles reaching back 25 years and eventually back to the paper's founding in 1851. TimesSelect subscribers can read up to 100 articles from the archive a month. For many years our readers have asked for seamless access to The Times's historical archive, and we are now making this available as part of TimesSelect.
I can go to the library and get the archives there. Oh, wait. You're not going to remove them from libraries are you? Is that Phase II?

Subscribers can also benefit from several online services. Readers can save and organize Times articles -- and any pages from around the Web -- in a personal Times File. News Tracker is a powerful e-mail alert service that keeps readers abreast of the articles they most want. And if you can't wait until Sunday, Times Preview offers early delivery of articles from the magazine, book review, Arts & Leisure, automobiles, real estate and travel before they are published.

I don't want to save things in a Times File, thank you very much.

TimesSelect will cost $49.95 a year and will be free for home delivery subscribers to the newspaper. This week, you can sign up early to get uninterrupted access to the columns when TimesSelect launches Sept. 19.

It's too expensive to get home delivery of the paper, and I'm not going to shell out $49.95.

Find out more.

Actually, for a lot of folks, it's going to be "Find out less." But wait. Maybe it doesn't have to be that way.

Maybe there is a way the op-ed readers can at least get the gist of what their favorite columnists have to say, without having to pay. Idea for an enterprising blogger: subscribe to TimesSelect. Read the op-eds each day. Summarize, with selected fair use quotes. Post the summaries to a blog. Call it SelectTimes.com (hey, it's available). Put lots of AdSense ads on it. Lemme know when it's done. I'll start reading it. The AdSense should garner more than $49.95/mo, plus you'd be doing us all a great service.

Posted by brian at September 18, 2005 12:52 PM

Comments

Agreed! It is dissapointing. Especially as someone who would love to get daily NYT delivey but finds it prohibitive here in Canada, my expectation is that I'll be looking for commentary from other sources.

I'd have paid a few $'s, but US$50 is a bit much for a few opinion pieces.

Posted by: David Ascher at September 19, 2005 01:10 PM

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