By: Greg Mitchell
The New York Times unveiled its great pay experiment Sunday night, when it unveiled TimesSelect and started putting its popular opinion and sports columnists behind the paid wall. A bright orange “T” in Times logo style now marks the pay material on the paper’s site.
No doubt thousands have already visited the newspaper?s site and clicked on, for example, the link to the new Paul Krugman column, to find just the title, ?Tragedy in Black and White,? and one sentence from his column, then the following: ?To continue reading this article, you must be a subscriber to TimesSelect.?
Click on the Times Select button and you find that if you subscribe to the paper, or to its International Herald Tribune (three times a week or more) then you can still get Krugman and the other columnists online for free. Otherwise, you have to pay $7.95 a month.
But to break you in easily — the paper is offering a 14-day free trial.
The question, of course, remains: how quickly, and how many, other Web editors and bloggers will copy the columns in question and put them up on their own sites, daring the Times to sue them.
The second Op-Ed columnist behind the firewall for Monday is Bob Herbert. His column is titled ?Good Grief? and the one sentence gift is: ?The country has put its faith in President Bush many times before, and come up empty.?
The Times also made pay today an analysis of the North Korea nuclear news by Roger Cohen. It announced the big changeover today in print, with an 8-page supplement to the newspaper.
Others joining Krugman and Herbert in the pay-for-play zone are sports columnists Dave Anderson (writing about the football Jets’ need for a new stadium) and William Rhoden, who contributes not one but two columns (on the trauma of the Yankees possibly not making the playoffs this year and a rocky road ahead for the Jets on the field).
Your correspondent, who is a home subscriber to the Times, was confounded by the new pay program at first on Sunday night. After seemingly enrolling, and receiving confirmation, the new columns remained thoroughly out of reach for a couple hours, before finally appearing. Then I found that Krugman compared black and white reactions to the New Orleans disaster, wondered how long it would have taken for help to reach Palm Beach, and concluded at the end: “I’d like to believe that Katrina will change everything – that we’ll all now realize how important it is to have a government committed to helping those in need, whatever the color of their skin. But I wouldn’t bet on it.”
Reading the entire Herbert column, I understood the “Good Grief” headline, since the first sentence harkens back to the “Peanuts” comic strip: “The president is Lucy, and he’s holding a football. We’re Charlie Brown.”
Other TimesSelect pay features for Monday include a special editorial, a slide show — and video interviews with Krugman and Herbert.
TimesSelect subscribers also get 100 free articles from Times archives, special e-mail alerts and extra material from some of the paper’s top columnists and writers.