Times Selects “Open”

The rumor reported in the Post a few weeks ago got it right – The Times is no longer charging for its web content. They were making money on subscriptions, but they realized, apparently, they can make more on advertising if the doors are open. I’m sure their columnists are also happy that bloggers can point to them without a subscription wall getting in the way.

I got into a spot of bother when I asked ProQuest whether they had any response to the Times wooing my students and faculty with free select accounts shortly after my library plunked down lots of cash for the same content. (It bugged me that the Times would act like my students’ best friend when, after all, I’m their best friend and had just purchased them a really shiny, expensive bauble and was trying hard to get them to notice.) Apparently ProQuest asked the Times and the Times said “oops, never mind” – and librarians (me in particular) were blamed for pulling the plug. But this development is exactly what I’d hoped for and I’m delighted with it.

Those of us who subscribe to the Historical New York Times will have to make clear why it’s different and worth using – there’s content and search capability that won’t be at the Times’s site. But that’s okay. And when our students graduate they won’t lose both our version and a temporary freebie from the Times.

The real news: here’s yet another example of bean counters figuring out that open is better for business than closed.

I’m still not sure what to think of their Knowledge Network, though, as reported in Inside Higher Ed a while back.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

3 thoughts on “Times Selects “Open””

  1. I agree except don’t forget this is a business decision based on advertising revenue. Murdoch has hinted WSJ will be next.
    Newspapers, despite their many problems, are one of the most important sources of general life long learning for most people.

  2. Of course it is – open is good for business. And I agree, print journalism for all its woes remains really essential.

    I just got an e-mail (as a Times subscriber) that includes this line.

    “Since we launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly open environment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places and interact with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances the free flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. It will enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion – as well as to share it, link to it and comment on it.”

    Actually, the Internet was always pretty open, but I agree totally with the rest of the statement and I’m delighted they’ve made this change.

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