TimesSelect: Only $49.95 for self-destruction

Heck, we’ll pay $49.95 for anyone who thinks that the New York Times decision to put their columnists behind a pay wall is a good idea.* (Still, Gail Collins says “No one has argued that we shouldn’t do this.”)

Take a look at Technorati, a website that tracks blogs. Most of the searches are for the various New York Times columnists, including Washington’s Eye Street Murderer’s Row: Dowd, Brooks, Tierney, Friedman. But the conventional wisdom–that the columns would just simply be cut and pasted and reproduced on various blogs–hasn’t held. The columnists have become enormously difficult to find and countless bloggers are refusing to even post the cut-and-paste version that appear, simply because they a.) want to, in their own way, protest the NYTimes decision and b.) don’t want to promote copyright violations.

Our mothership, Mediabistro, recently tried to find favorable reactions around the blogosphere but came up empty-handed: “We’d add more positive coverage to the sampling below in the interest of balance, but, well.. we couldn’t find any.”

Howard Kurtz agrees: “It’s not going over well in the blogosphere, where the Times is seen as limiting the worldwide impact of its columnists.

(Readers: You’re probably better scavengers of the Internet than we are. Tell us how you get your daily dose of NYTimes columnists and if you’re able to find them online. Further still: Are any of you actually subscribing? Let me know.).

Also take a look at the NYTimes most emailed articles. The top five slots used to almost always be dominated by the likes of Dowd, Brooks, Friedman, et al. Now, they’re gone.

Mickey Kaus says that TimesSelect ought to be called “TimesDelete,” as the Gray Lady is essentially deleting its influence and its columnists from the world stage.

Jay Rosen has perhaps the best analysis (and round-up of the analysis of others) and raises a number of excellent points, including:

  • how much damage does this inflict on the Times brand name?
  • doesn’t this simply make the Times an “ideological purifier?”
  • even if they maintain their current subscribers, how will they appeal to subsequent generations, being under a pay wall and all…?
  • does more expensive and difficult to get really make someone’s opinion more exclusive? Or just more easy to ignore?

*Disclaimer: No, we won’t actually pay you. But we’d appreciate your thoughts anyway.