Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gratis! Libre!

A long, long time ago, even before the New York Times decided to do its 'Select' experiment where they walled off part of the newspaper behind a paid wall, I thought that ads would be a good way for them and for the Wall Street Journal to monetize their websites. I still think that there's value-addition that they could do and charge for. After all, Bloomberg made billions from that idea.

It's kind of self-evident now, but the proliferation of blogs, search engines and link-astic goodness has led to ad-served free content becoming more lucrative than paid content, especially for mass-market content.

The New York Times has finally seen the light. Their content is free again. Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd and my personal favorite, David Brooks will finally be freely accessible again. The New York Times has the potential to really be among the top news websites in the world with the quality of its reportage and analysis if it embraces the challenge fully. At least a beginning has been made.

Though I'd really appreciate it if they'd do away with the login altogether. Free as in beer is nice, free as in freedom is even better.

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