September 22, 2005


"There are no syndicated versions of New York Times op-ed columns available for free on the web. Never!"

Cyrus Farivar, who interviewed me on Tuesday, has a story about Never Pay Retail up at Wired News.

When Farivar talked to New York Times Digital flak Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf Diane McNulty, she noted the change in the New York Times News Service's syndication policy, and, like NYTNS Exectutive Editor Lawrence M. Paul in the Editor & Publisher story the other day, insisted that everything is under control:

Upon being alerted to the existence of Never Pay Retail, McNulty said that the Times has contacted the publishers of the online editions of those newspapers and that the posts were all honest mistakes or oversights.

One online publisher, Lee Rosen, general manager of, acknowledged that the reprinting of Nicholas D. Kristof's Sept. 21 column, among other Times Op-Ed content, was a mistake.

"They won't be there tomorrow," Rosen said.

As of now, the Kristof column is still there, though the link from the PI's opinion page is not.
The Times said that it's watching for sites that don't follow the syndication rules.

"We don't expect such infringements to spread or to last long and we will be keeping a close eye on it," McNulty said.

Well, I'll be keeping a closer eye on it, too.

UPDATE: Commenter stosine asks: "How about linking to people who post columns on internet bulletin boards? I'm sure some must do that, and google can search them out." Yes, there is a copy of today's Bob Herbert column that you can find, if you really want it, by searching Google Groups (a reader emailed it to me), but we hashed this out the other day, and though such cut-and-pastes may technically be legal, most commenters seemed to share my discomfort with going that route.

Posted by John Tabin at September 22, 2005 08:51 AM

You are my hero. Keep fighting the fight. (That being, mostly, fighting for the right of people like me to scoff and roll my eyes WITHOUT paying $50 a year. Being a dismissive jerk should cost me anything but friends.)

Posted by: Shawn Macomber at September 22, 2005 09:24 AM

Like most everyone, I am outraged at the new policy of the NYT. I plan to read your columns and follow the story, but don't plan on reading any of the NYT, despite my fondness for op-ed writers such as Dowd, etc.

If enough people complain, will they change? I doubt it.Arrogance runs deep.

Thanks for your columns. I just discovered them while reading the Washington Post online. They also have great writers.

Carol Cohan

Posted by: Carol Cohan at September 22, 2005 09:26 AM

Each day, you seem to be finding a loophole, and I find this quite fortunate. I am no fan of Maureen Dowd, but Nicolas Kristof is a true "must", and the column regarding the latest elucubrations of the (elected) Pakistani strongman is an eye-opener; what is more, the concluding paragraph offers a rare exemplar of incisive yet balanced "opinionating".

Posted by: Jeffrey Arsham at September 22, 2005 09:36 AM

If this page goes down, maybe some nice person could post articles to usenet? If so, please announce which newsgroup here, thanks

Posted by: reader at September 22, 2005 11:23 AM

What is the problem with the concept that the people who produce the content deserve compensation?

Posted by: Craig at September 22, 2005 11:54 AM

I am not one of those who expects all content on the Internet to be free. I don't object to the Times charging what content is worth. If the newspaper charged a dollar a month for those who only want to read the columnists, that would be fine. If they had a graduated scale where one would pay more for more features and services of times Select, that would be fine. this would be value added features not appearing in print. However, the stupidity of the Times in charging a flat rate is astounding. It's attempting to build revenue for its added content by ripping off those who don't want it. If the times wants to attract customers for the added content, alienating a large number of them by charging almost fifty dollars a year to read two columns a day is not the way to do it. The Times should aggressively promote the new content and charge what it things the content is worth. it should not charge those who don't use it for that content.

the Times claims to be a liberal newspaper and constantly inveighs against unfair tax policy, maldistribution of income, and other unsound economic and trade practices. Evidently, the business side of the Times considers itself exempt from the views espoused by the journalistic side. Hence, we have a classic case of hypocrisy. Whenever I see a Times editorial or column protesting some grievous economic practice or inequality in the future, my first thought will be, "Paper, heal thyself."

Liberals have often been accused of hypocrisy in the past, advocating policies that will effect others' lives but not theirs. Whatever the merit of such accusations, the Times certainly is living up to them in this case. Evidently, liberalism doesn't begin at home. It's just exported as editorial policy. Come to think of it, it's not even a question of liberalism per se. It's a plain and simple question of fairness and ethics. Charge a fair price for a product and don't support one product on the back of another. Isn't this cost shifting, a practice the Times vehemently opposes in the health industry?


Posted by: Gene Asner at September 22, 2005 12:15 PM

Is it not enought having the world's most important and interesting newspaper free online that you are actually complaining about expending 50$ a YEAR for a restrinct number of op/eds? You know, this people are trying to make a living out of it and if you are so interested in reading them, perhaps you should pay they work. How about that?

Posted by: Antonio at September 22, 2005 12:18 PM

Is it not enought having the world's most important and interesting newspaper free online that you are actually complaining about expending 50$ a YEAR for a restrinct number of op/eds? You know, this people are trying to make a living out of it and if you are so interested in reading them, perhaps you should pay their work. How about that?

Posted by: Antonio at September 22, 2005 12:18 PM

I'm somewhat surprised that the New York Times columnists are putting up with this. Who would willingly sacrifice the ability to reach millions of people and to play a major role in guiding public opinion? The power to tax is the power to destroy, and this tax is going to undermine the ability of the NYT columnists to reach the public and generally marginalize their voice. It's a forced march to anonymity. I hope their salaries were increased sufficiently to compensate them.

Posted by: Paul at September 22, 2005 01:06 PM

I'll be watching this page:

...closely for a Firefox + Greasemonkey solution soon.

Posted by: David Newell at September 22, 2005 01:12 PM

How about linking to people who post columns on internet bulletin boards? I'm sure some must do that, and google can search them out.

Posted by: stosine at September 22, 2005 02:47 PM

Don't forget - Ask at your local public library if they subscribe to ProQuest, which archives all NY Times content. If so, and they allow remote access via a password, then you have free access to all NY Times content, including Times Select. public Libaries are great that way. As a librarian, I have been trying to find out how the Times wants institutions to deal with this issue - they say all Home Delivery subscribers get Times Select for free. Well, we get the NY Times delivered every day at our library, and I've successfully set up a free Times Select account with our subscription account #. What I can't figure out is how they'll fix this loophole, and whether I should go out on a limb and share our login info.

Posted by: Bri Johnson at September 22, 2005 06:14 PM

Given the quality of most of the op-eds (especially my favorite blue fairy-Maureen Dowd) at the NYT, they really should be paying us to read them!

(I know; that was mean of me!)

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at September 22, 2005 07:15 PM

Given the quality of most of the op-eds (especially my favorite blue fairy-Maureen Dowd) at the NYT, they really should be paying us to read them!

(I know; that was mean of me!)

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at September 22, 2005 07:16 PM

As soon as it hits the "sweet spot" price of $19.95/year, I'm sold. Yes, the Times deserves to be able to make more money from its content, and readers want to access their favorite columnists in a centrally located web site, but right now it is more economical to find the articles on the web, albeit spread out, for free.

Posted by: Matt at September 22, 2005 07:39 PM

This is a slippery slope. Yes, writers should be compensated (by their employers), however by placing a fee on the information not only limits the information in general, but limits TRUTH to only those who can afford it. In this day and age where poverty runs amuck, how many families living pay check to pay check can shell out the $50? Where else will you find TRUTH... network news? If this precident is allowed to stand, soon there will only be one free source of information. The Propaganda Network... and only the "haves" will know what's really going on.

Thank you to Rachel Maddow for informing me of this site. Kudos.

Posted by: RedCloud at September 23, 2005 06:53 AM

Several years ago the Times had a standing search service that would e-mail you articles that were responsive to your standing search criteria. They began charging for that, and I switched to Google's "Google Alert" version, which scours hundreds of news sources each day for free. In response to one of several of the Times's emails offering me the "opportunity" to subscribe to the new service (I don't recall the price), I told them that I thought making the service a pay service was a mistake and that it would not last.

I've looked carefully at several of the NY Times web-pages and don't see that the Times offers the service now.

This suggests that the Times has an exaggerated opinion of its own importance in the world. Certainly as news becomes more accessible we rely less and less on any one particular source. This hubris obviously extends to its view of its columnists. Why would I pay $50 a year to give a handful of people access to me just so they can push their own agendas?

I would love to see the business plan that suggested this makes any sense whatsoever.

Posted by: myob at September 23, 2005 09:19 AM

I say quit yer whining!! Please. NOt everything on the net is free, and theres a lot of good free stuff on the net. If you dont like the prices NYT has set, so bet it. Move on. Economics is about supply and demand. If the Times' price is too high, there wont be much demeand and they'll probably lower or drop the price tag. If they dont, oh well, Theres still the Washington Post, LA times,, slate,, and on and on. Youre not gonna DIE if you cant read some of the NYT articles. Good grief. Some of you need to grow up and get over it!!

Posted by: Terry at September 23, 2005 10:06 AM

I say quit yer whining!! Please. NOt everything on the net is free, and theres a lot of good free stuff on the net. If you dont like the prices NYT has set, so bet it. Move on. Economics is about supply and demand. If the Times' price is too high, there wont be much demeand and they'll probably lower or drop the price tag. If they dont, oh well, Theres still the Washington Post, LA times,, slate,, and on and on. Youre not gonna DIE if you cant read some of the NYT articles. Good grief. Some of you need to grow up and get over it!!

Posted by: Terry at September 23, 2005 10:06 AM

I would be willing to pay $20 a year for unrestricted access to the Times, but not more. I agree that the Times is marginalizing itself, effectively shooting itself in the foot. With their recent decision to restrict access to their Op-Ed contributors, they have chosen to deny the voices of important opinion leaders to millions of people, wait, billions of people, who simply do not have $50 to spare. I believe strongly that access to the columns of the Op-Ed contributors should be free.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler at September 23, 2005 11:20 AM

I have sent an e-mail to the New York times which said:
"If you block the OP, who needs you ED."

We can live without it.

Posted by: John Markus at September 23, 2005 11:31 AM

I personally would identify myself as a libreal and would support strong state role in economic activity. But I do not think there is any "right" to news - at least not as portrayed on this page. If a private news organization wants to charge for its content, there is nothing one can do about it. If some can not afford it, it is unfortunate.

It is far-fetched to suppose that this decision at NYTimes would trigger a day when no news would be available for free. Even at NYTimes, news content is free. One does not find appaling paying for print versions of news papers. And in time one would not find appaling paying for the electronic versions too.

Quite apart from the above, I do believe that the charge of $50 per year is emintently reasonable. You read can 730 Op-Ed pages, can access 1200 articles from the archive (from 1981), can create very convenient files of interesing articles etc. The deal is good even if you are only interested in OP-Ed pages. Remember that it is just $4 per month. And if you are with a friend or two also interested in NYTimes, it is just one or two dollars.

However one brags about the conservative undertones of this action by NYTimes, and how it is going to undermine the rights of those who can not afford it, it is impossible to recognize the fact that news papers (particularly, the electronic versions) are mostly the pastime of the middle class and above. It is unthinkable that such people can not afford $4 dollars (or, even less, if they look carefully for interested people to share the cost) per month to enjoy, what is after all, high quality journalism.

Posted by: Krishna at September 23, 2005 12:06 PM

This started as a comment, and ended up a blog post.

"You want your country back? Start with the New York Times. The deal is, we tolerate an advertising blitz in order to read a few articles or op-eds a week. The Times is not charging money for their op-eds because, turn on big weepy crocodile tears, they’re going broke. No, they’re charging because they think there is no limit to what the American people will be duped into paying for."

Posted by: Sandy at September 23, 2005 12:20 PM

Awesome thank you for doing this.

Posted by: TBLJ at September 23, 2005 01:46 PM

I don't think anyone should be exploiting loopholes to punch through the paywall at the New York Times. To begin with, it is stealing.

But, that really is not the point. The point is that a newspaper has more influence over public opinion through its opinion writing, than through its news reporting. If the Times wishes to cede this invaluable intellectual real estate to other thought factories, then so be it. It will be hard to get back when they realize how stupid a move this is. Let them suffer.

I feel most sorry for the paper's columnists. They don't do that job for the money, although I am certain that the money is quite good. They want to be widely read. I would not be surprised if these fine writers soon find themselves courted by other papers who will happily make their opinion pieces available for free in exchange for the massive traffic generated by people seeking them out. The great thing about the web is that they wouldn't even have to move. No reason at all that you can't live in New York or Connecticut and write for the Chicago Tribune or the L.A. Times.

In fact, if I were the publisher of Harper's, The Atlantic or the New Yorker, I would be talking with Krugman, Herbert and Dowd right now, in order to get them on board as soon as their contracts with the Times expire. The web traffic for those magazines would explode with that kind of talent on board, and their online ad revenue right along with it.


Posted by: BH at September 23, 2005 03:09 PM

I'm a home subscriber...somewhere buried in the fine print on the Times Select Admissions Test is the fact that my "private" delivery system does not allow me to get Times Select. Instead, my $39.90 a month gets me nothing but the Times. That's fine, except when I'm WAY AWAY from any daily NY Times and can't even see or buy the thing at the little grocery store around the corner in downeast Maine. What to do? I love the times, and I NEED Krugman and Herbert. Also love to read the "buried-in-the-back" stories that are inevitably embarrassing to the administration. Phooey.

Posted by: jjjj at September 23, 2005 05:02 PM

Thank you. I have now bookmarked your sight and will read it religiously every day.

Posted by: Jonathan at September 23, 2005 06:26 PM

Hummm... The NYT seems to be winning the war against Never Pay Retail..... No Krugman, no Albany Times links. And the NYT just laid-off 500 more people, and they seem to think these columnists won't jump ship.... Come on David Brooks, come on Maureen Down and Paul Krugman.... get away from that Nazi "Howell Raines" style censorship.... I would pay to read your articles but I wouldn't give the creely, stinky Jason Blain New York Times woners the sweat off my cajones.... POWER TO THE PEOPLE... Keep the internet free!!!

Posted by: dynapro at September 23, 2005 06:48 PM

This is a fatal error in judgement by the greedy NYT management. Ready, shoot, aim..... oh God, I think I just shot my foot off!!! I never thought the New York Times and George W. Bush would have something in common....... STUPIDITY....

Posted by: Cathy Levy at September 23, 2005 06:52 PM

I have a great idea! Let's someone create a P2P application and then someone else buy a subscription to Times Select and then we all link up together and get free Times Select!!!

We can call it Newster, you know, like newspaper and Napster put together. Get it? That way we can all steal the NYT content like everyone used to steal the record labels' content! Awesome!

Who cares? They have tons of money anyway, right? It's not like they just had to layoff 500 people (4% of staff) due to poor revenues or anything...

Oh wait--- damn! They did!

Well, it's not like the fact that people who really really really like their content so much that they're willing to do anything they can to get it are stealing it instead of paying for it impacts their revenues, is it?

Is it?

Posted by: Ellis Martin at September 23, 2005 07:39 PM

Like most everyone else, I like to pay as little as possible for things. That is why I read the Times online instead of buying the paper each day. With that said, why shouldn't the Times be allowed to charge for its content? Don't they have a right to make money. Give me a break about all those people who cannot afford Times Select. Does that mean if you cannot afford a nice jacket you see in the store it should be given to you. If you don't want to pay for Times Select or cannot afford it, take a ride to your local library and read the paper for free.

Posted by: Mark at September 23, 2005 08:25 PM

If the NYT wants to be pig headed and charge for their opinion columnists....go for it, the web is chock full of excellent blogs that can fill their gap for free. If they want to choke off up and coming lifelong NYT fans who got hooked as youngsters....go for it. If they want to give the edge to other leading publications with great opinion columns......go for it. If they want to lose influence in the national political debate, well, you've got it NYT, now go for it & good luck.

Posted by: Joe at September 23, 2005 10:17 PM

There's a site taking bets on whether TimesSelect is cancelled by the end of the year.

Posted by: Tracy at September 24, 2005 01:50 AM

hey i can not begun to say that how thankful i am to you. i live in new delhi, india. i'm a aspiring novelist and live in a sort of genteel novelist and there was no way i could have subscribed to time select. but it is alos true that i can not live without reading nytimes your service is doing a real good favour to me....thanks again.......

Posted by: Mayank at September 24, 2005 05:53 AM

The truth should be taxed and we fully agree with The New York Times for implementing this clever form of censorship.

Posted by: Corporate Media at September 24, 2005 07:28 AM

It’s just like smoking crack - the first couple of hits are free until the dealer hooks you and starts charging to feed your demons.

All the poor junkies are looking for a free hit (you wouldn’t be here otherwise). But there’s no one to blow for a complimentary column. With this scheme it will actually be cleaner than crack whores spreading disease. Really though, how many lattes will you shoot up this month while you refuse to shill out $4 for your intellectual smack?

But THIS dealer is diversified into multiple revenue streams. If his meager addicts don’t come knocking at the door with their wadded up bills and loose change he can count on the consistent income of the advertisers.

Or can he? If the junkies start finding new drugs that give them the same high – the doorbell doesn’t ring as much. When there are fewer visitors to the palace don’t advertisers demand lower rates (or pull ads altogether)? And what becomes of the once powerful dealer when the empire begins to crumble.

Time will tell, my friends.

But this will be an interesting graph to watch…

Posted by: Gregory at September 24, 2005 12:05 PM

Actually, what I find the most disturbing about this change in policy upon the NYT part is the fact that I can't even get these columns through my university library's database system--a service that libraries pay a huge amount of money for on a yearly basis. An online subscription to an academic journal can run into the hundreds, and I imagine a subscription to Lexus Nexus or Academic Search Premiere runs into the thousands on a yearly basis. Surely libraries who pay through the nose for this service should have access to these texts. While I've been trying to access these articles for my own edification, I actually have an assignment starting next week that requires my students be able to read opinion columns as part of learning how to read the news as a cultural artifact. It's a little hard to have them be able to do this assignment well when they are denied access to these sources. While they can use previous op-ed columns, I like my students to focus on current events since it makes the information they read more relevant to them. And yes, they can purchase a newspaper etc. But college students tend to use the internet as the sole source of research. I don't imagine they will actively seek out back issues in paper form when they can find information for free from their dorm rooms.

Posted by: Lindsy at September 24, 2005 12:44 PM

New York Times?
They print on paper now? How quaint. Retrograde.
No thanks. I'm out of fish.
If it's not on a search engine, it's not relevant.

Posted by: Rick at September 24, 2005 03:18 PM

i have no problem paying michael ruppert $50 a year or whatever it is for his reporting at

but i'm not going to pay the NY Times for brown-nosing Bu$h.

it's simple - the NY Times is no longer "all the news that's fit to print". it's a corporate propaganda rag (but a nice rag !), with one or 2 good thinkers.

so ... the NY Times is losing subscribers to Michael Ruppert ! As it should be - Ruppert tells the truth, inconvenient as that may be.

Posted by: wwswimming at September 24, 2005 09:24 PM

I can't believe it -- I am reading a thread that bitches about NTY charging for editorial content...

and "copy and paste" is disabled!!!!!


Posted by: anonymous at September 24, 2005 10:10 PM

Let me note that the NYTimes columns also appear regularly in translation to other languages. See e.g. Russian newspaper Izvestiya with a recent Kristof's column:

Posted by: IP at September 24, 2005 10:58 PM

Ya know, ya gotta wonder if the Times' management was pressured to do this by the Bush Administration. What better way to muzzle thoughtful critics of Bush and Company than to hide them behind an expensive wall? The Times will suffer a loss of prestige and so will its columnists, so it must have been threatened with something really nasty.

Posted by: Anne Nonymous at September 25, 2005 12:16 AM

I think this is going to hurt most the people it was designed to promote--the columnists.
I'd imagine a NYT salary is a very nice thing to have, but the big money is in publishing and face-time TV interviews and such.
Dowd and Friedman are two of the better known, but in a year or two even they are going to feel the effects of having a huge chunk of their readership axed.
I can't imagine why they ever went along with such a terrible idea. They boxed themselves in to new readers. How do you publicize your work when you are in a closed system?

And you can only pay by credit card. No other way is accepted.
For myself, I do not EVER put my credit card info anywhere on line.
I do have a checking account linked to paypal, which the Times won't accept. And hilariously, you can't pay by check either. So there you go.

And to make this an even more bitter pill to swallow, out here in the rural nowhere of Upstate NY dairy country there is NO home delivery or way to subscribe in the first place.
It costs me more to buy a copy of the NYT 3 hours from Manhattan than it does in San Francisco. And I can't even get it delivered. Go figure.

It's a moot point anyway at $50.00. Obviously the Times has accountants that live in the Caymans. Who else wouldn't have told them that with gas and heating oil going into the stratosphere in NY and Ne England, the start of the cold season here is not exactly the best time to hit people up for 50 bucks a pop.

Perhaps, trying something like a 6 month $25.00 bi-annual fee would have been more sensible. With a more rational payment acceptance method.
Oh well, gives me more free time to go read something else.

And I just remembered that the London Times tried this about a year ago, hitting up overseas subscribers for such an absurd amount you could have flown to London one way on what they were asking. Really.

They lost their readership big time and went back to where they were before- free.

But what they actually did was drive readers over to the competing London papers. I find that even Free I don't read the London Times nearly as much as I used to and have found other London newspapers, unread previously , which I now prefer.

The NYT has always rested a bit too much on its laurels. maybe this will drive readers to reading other papers around the country and benefit metropolitan journalism in an unexpected way. Aslong as i am reading a bit of SeattelPI or Houston Chronicle here, I might a swell look at more.

Posted by: gala at September 25, 2005 01:51 AM

i was a home delivery customer of the Times for more than thirty years. I was drowning in the advertising pages but felt access to reasonably accurately reported news was worth the inconvenience of having to dispose of tons of ads that I never looked at. After the '04 election when the Times's complicity in the hijacking by corporate interests could no longer be ignored I cancelled home delivery. Now that I've been reading the paper online for some time I kow I could never go bzck to the encumbrance of all that paper. But chiefly, I wonder how the NYT has the effrontery to charge anything at all to readers when their advertising income so obviously vastly outstrips anything we subscribers paid. The answer? As one of your earlier writers said, just because they can. Thank you, thank you for your good work.

Posted by: jay at September 25, 2005 08:44 AM

How's this for a paradox: Within two days of Times Select becoming operational (an oxymoron?), I began reading their premier columnists far more assiduously than over all these decades of print edition and/or online readership of NYT. By which I mean that whereas I'd read or scan, say, Dowd and Brooks prior to last Monday, by Wednesday I was savoring the pleasure of carefully digesting three or four of their renowned columnists every morning. -- Human nature at work!

Posted by: Daddydog at September 25, 2005 09:10 AM

Your campaign should include The Independent and The Globe nad Mail. Both papers request exorbitant money for their no-nonsense comentaries only.
It is remarkable that that the Greshem-Copernicus law works not only for coins and banknotes:
"the inferior products (editorials) supersed the quality ones circulating on the 'net".

Keep fighting against this trend.

Posted by: tatko Suzka at September 25, 2005 11:59 AM