Marty Nisenholtz must be losing his senses. His last brilliant idea was to wall off many of his most popular Op Ed columnists behind prison bars he calls TimesSelect. It’s supposed to be an exclusive club offering its members special features not available to anyone else.
Luckily, I’m a home subscriber and so get TS free. If I wasn’t would it be worth the $49.95 price? Nah. So what makes Marty think anyone would find TS such a charming and delightful gift they’d want to give it to a loved one for Christmas? Surely he jests. This is one of those marketing ploys that, when you think about them, make you laugh at how foolish an idea it was.
In fact, it reminds me of the scene in the Susan Sarandon film, White Castle, in which James Spader, her younger lover, gets her a dustbuster for her birthday. When she berates him vociferously for such an unromantic gift the only retort he can muster is: “Well, at least it’s practical.”
But TS isn’t even practical because it gives you so little and costs so much.
Apparently, 135,000 new TS subscribers disagree with me because that’s how many joined up between the September launch and mid-November. But the flip side of such “success” (how can we know if it does constitute success since Marty’s refused to provide any information about what the service’s revenue goals are?) is the greatly reduced circulation of TS colunists within the blog world. Independent Sources notes that Blogpulse finds no mention of the phrase “Paul Krugman” in the past two months. IS also notes a similar drop-off for Frank Rich and David Brooks. It does make you wonder how accurate Blogpulse is when it can find absolutely no reference to a fairly popular Times columnist. But regardless of absolute accuracy, you can fairly say that this phenomenon indicates that Krugman and the other TS writers have now become the light that NYT is hiding under the TS bushel.
If I were Dowd, Rich, Herbert and the others I’d find the tradeoff between the need to monetize the Nytimes.com and their reduced web prominence to be a tough one to buy.