As of midnight, the Times Select premium will be no more. This was the NY Times' attempt to capitalize on the popularity of certain columnists in order to create a new revenue source for the paper. Unfortunately, this led to lots of re-posts of the premium content. The Times Select was reasonably priced, and since the model seems to work well for Salon.com, it's unfortunate that it didn't come together for the Times. Since newspapers are struggling for ways to maintain revenue as subscription rates fall and youngsters shy away from paying for online access, this is just another model to toss on the trash pile.
Maybe it is time for my private foundation idea. The Sacramento Bee keeps calling me to offer reduced subscription rates. I don't read the physical paper anymore. It goes in a pile by the door and, if it doesn't get used to line the litter box or as packing material, eventually makes its way to the recycle bin next to the dumpster. A waste of energy, resources and time for all involved. Which isn't to say that I don't depend on the Bee for my news; I simply prefer to read the RSS feeds. Unfortunately, that's free. And, as a public radio supporter, that makes me feel guilty. And as such, I think the newspaper industry should move to a user-supported model. I would gladly give money to a McClatchy Foundation that guaranteed that the money I contributed would go to paying the salaries of local reporters. I do realize that this would lead to a reduction in paper route jobs, which is muy unfortunate for the folks who depend on those for their livelihood, but perhaps we can come up with other things for them to do. Long gone are the days of kids doing paper routes on their bikes, if ever they existed, anyway.