Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The NYT Stretches the Truth Again

As a professor, I receive a free subscription to TimesSelect, which gives me access to the NYT’s subscription-only op-ed page. Today, I received this email:

Dear TimesSelect Subscriber,

We are ending TimesSelect, effective today.

The Times’s Op-Ed and news columns are now available to everyone free of charge, along with Times File and News Tracker. In addition, The New York Times online Archive is now free back to 1987 for all of our readers.

Why the change?

Since we launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly open environment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places and interact with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances the free flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. It will enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion - as well as to share it, link to it and comment on it. . . .

Like anything written by the NYT, a little fact-checking is in order. The NYT did not launch TimesSelect back in the early-Al-Gore-invention-days of the Internet, but rather just 2 years ago. Accordingly, it is not credible to say that the Internet has evolved to become more open in any meaningful sense since the advent of TimesSelect. Rather, as the NYT’s VP tacitly concedes here, the real reason behind the change is that the NYT made a bad business decision with TimesSelect--that is, they could make considerably more money by relying on ad revenue rather than restricting access to their op-ed content.

I don’t expect them to disclose their profit motives in an email canceling the service. But their excuse seems particularly lame and transparent, particularly given the fact that they didn’t need to give a reason at all.

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