Mixed feelings about Times Select, which kicks in today. Now the Editorials and Certain articles have this little orange icon next them, which indicates that you should get out your credit card.
The effect was, of course, I checked to see if I should just get a subscription to the friggin' paper. And I read Frank Rich and said to myself: "How will I link to this without paying?" I'm sure Nature will find a way.
Boy do I like to link to Frank Rich.
As I've said before, the internet will inevitably move to away from free content, especially content that is essentially reprinted content from a pay service. To be honest, I've often wondered if the Times wasn't losing itself money by providing the same content on its website that it does in the print edition. In some ways, its website provides more, with Audio Content etc. All of this is free, or was free, to its readers. While I'm sure it established the voice of the Times firmly on the internet and drove top quality ad sales... it inevitably hurt subscriptions of print volumes.
I have no numbers to support that assumption. It's just common sense.
That being said, there was already some play content on the Times website, but it was all archival. That means that the Times only revenue from readers was researchers and students looking for old articles. Otherwise it was all secondary, listing fees, advertising, etc. And by making the website's content as heightened as it was/is, it made the print edition look like a quaint product of yesteryear.
I'm not someone who thinks print needs to go the way of vinyl. I don't think that books, for example, will ever truly find a home online. But news sources have quandry...be up to date...but don't destroy your established presence in print.
I'm not sure if Times Select is a good move...but I understand it. It won't make the blogsphere and those of us who have come of tech-age in the yolk of peer-to-peer networks and shareware happy; but it might not be us that needs all of our needs met.
Will the internet simply become the new "television?" Will it become a product of buying a computer that gets you online, paying a level of monthly fee for access, like a cable bill? Some might say that television is more likely to begin to mirror the internet. You pay for your technology, your pay for your provider, and then you pick and choose, with your charge card, service you want to receive above and beyond basics.
Will it really be a bad thing that the consumer dollar directly decides what is produced, as opposed to ad sales and demographics? Will that affect content? Questions abound.
I just don't have the cash to read Krugman at work while I'm pretending to pay a great deal of attention to other things.
Perhaps the Times is just trying to increase my productivity. Not theirs.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.