The Late Great New York Times
With circulation down and sales flagging, times are tough at the New York Times. The once iconic behemoth of the American journalism industry has seen recent years pass by with the ever increasing influence of non-traditional news outlets, particularly online outlets, chipping away at its consumer base. Wheather the problem is poor management, or being out of touch with the views of the reader, one can't be certain. But as the old adage goes, when it rains it pours. Times publisher Authur Sulzberger jr is set to announce next week that the paper will be pulling the plug on The Times' customer pay online news service "The Times Select." The online service had been flagging in sales as of late with subscriptions falling by over 3000 between the months of April and June. Reports from New York suggest that this decrease might have been the determining factor in the decision that is certain to wreak even more havoc on the Times' shrinking bottom line.
By HOLLY M. SANDERS
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August 7, 2007 -- The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.
After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.
The timing of when TimesSelect will shut down hinges on resolving software issues associated with making the switch to a free service, the source said.
Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis would only say in an e-mailed statement, "We continue to evaluate the best approach for NYTimes.com."
While other online publications were abandoning subscriptions, the Times took the opposite approach in 2005 and began charging for access to well-known writers, including Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Thomas L. Friedman.
The decision, which also walled off access to archives and other content, was controversial almost from the start, with some of the paper's own columnists complaining that it limited their Web readership.
In July, The Post reported that insiders were lobbying to shut down the service. After two years, however, the move to do away with TimesSelect may have more to do with growth than grumbling inside the paper.
The number of Web-only subscribers who pay $7.95 a month or $49.95 a year fell to just over 221,000 in June, down from more than 224,000 in April.