alex writes in to let us know that The New York Times is considering charging a subscription fee to access its website -- copying the Wall Street Journal. This would be a monumentally stupid decision on their part, and shows a scary lack of understanding about the very business they're in. The article quotes N.Y. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., saying: "It gets to the issue of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free. That is troubling." That isn't troubling -- that's the nature of the business. But, it's not a bad thing. It's only a bad thing if you think your business is subscription based. We've already explained how the NYT is losing its relevance in the online world thanks to its registration system. They recently opened up old tech stories for free, rather than paid, so it's odd that they would then quickly move to a full sub model right after becoming more free. Already, the fact that the Wall Street Journal is paid-only means that it's lost its "must read" status among many influencers. Other newspapers that have gone to a paid model are discovering that the opportunity cost is tremendous. It's about time that newspapers realized that they're no longer in a broadcast business any more. The news goes beyond that, from incorporating the views of readers to customizing the news to letting readers help spread the news. Blocking yourself into a paid garden simply will guarantee that they'll go away faster.
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