The Times is ceasing to be free online

From an e-mail I got today from the New York Times. Under their new arrangement:

On, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.
I don’t know about this. Of course the Times has the right to charge money for the privilege of reading its website. At the same time, the Web with its intense liveliness of discussion has been very much a function of its free character, particularly when it comes to newspapers and other news sites. The average news and opinion reader (not to mention a blogger like myself, whose use of the Web is extremely intense) accesses many different sites many times in the course of a month, and could not possibly subscribe to all of them. If major online news organs start to require subscriptions, far fewer people will read them, which will have, to coin a phrase, a chilling effect on the discussion.

UPDATE, April 8: in an entry today, I wrote:

By the way, if you have any concerns about reading the Times given its new paywall, rest assured that any Times article that is linked and discussed at any length at VFR in the future will be reproduced here in full so that you won’t need to access the Times itself. Also rest assured that I have not taken any steps to get around the Times paywall or cheat them in any way. I am simply using my Firefox browser as I have used it for years. I will say no more.

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

For me, the Times’s greatest value is its concise headlines, and subheads. So if I find something I’m truly interested in, I’ll just Google and read about it elsewhere. The Times is in trouble because of a lot of reasons, but this online ploy won’t work: it will definitely further compromise the integrity of its brand.

Let’s be real: Will anyone be willing to pay for the privilege of reading Charles Blow?

LA replies:

Well, a few years ago they took their op-ed columns offline and required subscription to read them. It didn’t work (as you said, who would want to pay to read Blow, Friedman, Dowd, et al.?), and after a year or two they made their op-ed columns free again. The same may happen with this effort.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 17, 2011 12:08 PM | Send

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