Fuck The New York Times
I've been meaning to say this for a while now: fuck NYT, fuck Times Select, fuck paying to read MoDo, fuck them all, and buttfuck Sulzberger. Matthew Yglesias would've gotten it almost right, only he's way too mild and slightly wrong:
Boy, I'd sort of like to know what Paul Krugman's column on race and Katrina says. But that's not a fifty bucks a year kind of desire to know. If I'm lucky, Krugman will decide he'd better email the text of his articles for free to influential bloggers and the like.Actually, the idea that I'd have to pay 50 bucks to read Krugman's thoughts on race and Katrina makes me not give a shit what those thoughts are. Where Matthew goes wrong is saying that the Times columnists should hand out their stuff to big-time bloggers for free. Let's pretend it doesn't matter that Matthew is a big-time blogger; what he's suggesting is not like a complimentary subscription to a magazine---maybe certain grande fromages should actually get comp'd scrips to the Times Magazine or something---rather, it's a way of subverting the whole concept of internet journalism as a domain of both economic and First Amendment freedom. When big-time bloggers start courting roles as gatekeepers of information, the project's in trouble. Big-time bloggers, should they get such an offer, should turn it down on principle and refuse to link the the Times op-ed page (though they should be doing the latter in any case).
Anyway, charging to read the op-ed page is an insult to Times readers, as everybody keeps saying, and it's going to shrink their audience substantially, as everybody keeps saying. But not only for the reasons everybody keeps saying. It's not just that the fee is a huge disincentive to read it; it's that somebody (or somebodies) at the Times Co. made the blunderful calculation that the opinions of NYT columnists are some kind of scarce resource. Whom are they kidding? What's the likelihood that Krugman will have anything to say about race and Katrina that isn't already basically covered by the huge scope of freely accessible liberal media. I mean, what are the odds that one of Krugman's regular columns will have a truly, genuinely, bonafide novel argument that you couldn't get elsewhere. Ditto for the rest of them; you can get the best of Brooks from reading Andrew Sullivan, and the worst of Brooks with Brooksbot, (which is a lot like the Chomskybot, only much more about how there are two kinds of lots of different things, and if the Brooksbot doesn't exist, it should). You can get the best of Tierney from Reason, and the worst of Tierney from NRO. The best of MoDo from James Wolcott, the worst of MoDo from---actually I'm not sure anything is that vapid. Check that, you can get your fill of MoDo material anytime you want it from the HuffPost. Nobody's in urgent need of the wisdom of Nicholas Kristoff. Sure, if I can go to the Time page whenever I want, and if he's got something that looks interesting, I'll read it. But post-Times Select, here's what happens: I lose nothing, Kristoff loses a potential reader. And what happens on the occasions when a Times columnist says something actually, unarguably original. Well, word will get out. You might not be able to link the story, but people will pick up the idea. It'll just get disconnected from its progenitor, and become a kind of communal blogosphere property.
So with all this in mind, anybody want to take bets on how long the Times Co. keeps the bullshit up? I reckon it'll either collapse after a month or else Pinch et al. will stick their heads in the sand, led the experiment go on indefinitely, and lose a lot of their heft to the Washington Post.