Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Somebody call in the Red Cross and stockpile blankets: It looks like the NYT hostage-held columnists are about to be freed


It's as if some present-day Moses went to Pharaoh, or "Pinch" Sulzberger, and said, "Let your columnist-hostages go!" Today the New York Post is reporting that the New York Times is about to dump its subscription TimesSelect service, which means light at the end of the tunnel for the paper's long-held-hostage columnists!

Apparently, the subscription base, instead of growing, is slipping. I don't know that the decision has been influenced at all by what I assume is considerable unhappiness on the part of the paper's opinion-mongers, who must surely have felt their reach diminished by the firewall "protecting" their precious writings.

I have slightly mixed feelings about this. I didn't much like the idea of TimesSelect. However, the paper's decision to give it to all home-delivery customers free meant that at least, for once, I was getting something, you know, free--as long as you don't count the rapidly rising cost of the paper.

Not to mention, now, its shrinking size. I did catch the note a few days ago that as of yesterday the width was going to shrink an inch and a half, which apparently would now make it some kind of standard size and save the company all kinds of money. I missed the debut of the new mini-Times yesterday, since I didn't get my only theoretically home-delivered paper. (This is always a trick issue this. You can call or go online, and they'll give you credit, but I never know whether it actually wasn't delivered or it was merely stolen before I could get downstairs to pick it up. That's really not the paper's fault, after ll.)

That meant that I also missed the "To Our Readers" note yesterday, which explained at least some of the editorial changes resulting from the size change, including the exiling, it appears, of letters to the editor on less serious subjects to the website. (Letters, as well as editorials, of purely local interest have already been fobbed off on the Sunday "City" section, where there are also a couple of ope-ed pieces too local to crack the real op-ed pages.)

So far it feels like a toy paper. I was delighted to see a reader whose letter made the seriousness-level cut noting that the new format makes it impossible to subway-fold the paper down the middle and have editorials on one side and letters on the other, the very thing I had just discovered.

What I want to know now is: What are they going to give us delivery customers when TimesSelect goes free? Please, not that dreadful old Times Card, which offered discounts at a lot of restaurants. What about those of us who don't go to restaurants?

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At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, the New York Times, like 99.9999% of the corporate media will never get it straight. Think about it. Their readership declines, yet they have no idea why. Like most corporations, they do the exact opposite of what they should do. They have raised the price of the paper and shrunk the size and quality of their product. How is that supposed to appeal to the consumer? "All the news that's fit to print"??? Doesn't look like it. Here's a suggestion to the editor: Give the people a REASON to buy your paper. Instead of having your A section be a propaganda sheet for the Bush Administration ala PRAVDA, why not offer some sharp investigation of the crimes of said administration. It worked years ago for The Washington Post when they had Woodward and Bernstein investigating Watergate.


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