Less time with the Times, Sept. 19, 2005

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

My week got off to a bad start. I read the New York Times daily on the Web. For the past three or four years I've received an email from the Times every morning which has several dozen stories, editorials, op-ed pieces, etc. listed with links to the stories.

I start the day a click away from my favorite columnists like Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, David Brooks and Frank Rich.

This morning, however, something was different. The Times added a new feature for my convenience called "Times Select." Times Select allows me to access all the content I've been accessing for free for the past three or four years, plus now I get to pay the Times for the privilege.

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Forget them. Those writers aren't that good.

This is a big problem for the newspaper business, from the might to New York Times down to the lowly Suffolk News-Herald. Most people, like me, have become accustomed to getting their news for free. And particularly at a time when I'm paying about $30 more a week in gas than I was a month ago, I'm not going to shell out another 4 bucks a month to read the stinkin' New York Times columnists. And the mainstream media claims it's not out of touch with America.

I doubt Times Select will work for the Times. I don't know of any newspaper that has successfully offered paid content on the Web. All that is likely to happen is that the Times will be less influential now that its point of view is getting out to fewer people.

I don't begrudge the Times the right to expect to make money from its product. That's why we're here. They just aren't going to make it off me.

Actually, my New York Times habit has weakened its hold on me of late anyway. There are many good writers out there at other newspapers and on blogs who are giving it away. Since I've discovered blogs, I've spent less time at the Times. Now, I'll likely spend none at all.