Price System Rules!
The NYTimes, a paper of fable and light fiction (as well as tragic, misleading fiction when it came to their witch hunt against Duke students), has made a decision:
Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
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. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.
In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free.
The Times said the project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers — out of 787,000 over all — and generating about $10 million a year in revenue.
“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site, NYTimes.com.
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.
I have a different interpretation: The Times discovered that they couldn't consistently charge over the market price: zero. The Times has become, no matter how much Neanderbill tries to deny it, "The Newspaper of Discord."
So, the NYT didn't stop charging, they just lowered their price to its market-clearing level.
(Nod to Anonyman, who asks: "Does this explain why Maureen Dowd's books are in the bargain bin at bookstores? Can it be that people don't want to pay for the "truth" after all?")