Monday, 16 May 2005

Interrupting the two-step flow

James Joyner links a MarketWatch piece that claims the New York Times is going to put its op-ed columnists behind a subscription wall; the Times has confirmed this in its own article. While comparisons to New Coke may be premature, I have to wonder who’s really going to pay $50 a year to read Paul Krugman, David Brooks, and MoDo.

One also has to wonder why the Times would want to abandon the mindshare that comes from getting linked from the blogosphere; has an interview that indicates that some sort of “affiliate program” is in the works, but I don’t think the opportunity for right-wingers to make fun of Paul Krugman’s continuing descent into moonbattery—or for leftists to mock John Tierney and David Brooks—is really worth the subscription fee in the first place (presumably some of which would be kicked back to referrers through the affiliate program). Indeed, the point of having an op-ed page is to influence public opinion; the idea that the Times would curtail its ability to influence local and regional elites, and thus shape public debate over the issues, runs directly counter to that goal.

There are other thoughts from Erik Kennedy of Ars Technica, Steven Taylor, and Julian Sanchez.