New York Times To Start Charging for Full Access:
Andrew Sullivan points out that the New York Times will soon require readers who do not receive home delivery of the Times to pay $50 a year to access its op-ed page and the work of a few key reporters. Sullivan wonders whether this will end up making the Times less relevant:
  By sectioning off their op-ed columnists and best writers, they are cutting them off from the life-blood of today's political debate: the free blogosphere. Inevitably, fewer people will link to them; fewer will read them; their influence will wane faster than it has already. The blog is already becoming a rival to the dated op-ed column format as a means of communicating opinion journalism. My bet is that the NYT's retrogressive move will only fasten the decline of op-ed columnists' influence.
  Maybe, but I would guess there's more to it. I think it's a matter of finding the tipping point when lots of readers will pay to get full on-line access to the Times. Blocking the op-ed page alone certainly won't do it; while the Times still does some fantastic original reporting, their op-ed page is so predictable you don't need to actually read it to know what's on it. Reading the Times op-ed page is kinda like eating at McDonald's: you may or may not like what they're serving, but you've seen it all many times before. Some people will pay $50 a year for that, but I suspect the number is a fairly small percentage of the Times' readership.

  On the other hand, there may be a point at which lots and lots of people would pay $50 a year for on-line access to the entire paper. My speculation is that the Times will start by blocking only the op-ed page plus a few reporters, and eventually expand the scope of material blocked from nonpaying users until they find the point (if there is one) where lots of users would agree to pay for access. It'll be interesting to see where that point is, if it exists at all.

  Of course, this is just my speculation. I have enabled comments. As always, civil and respectful comments only.