Jon Garfunkel has done prodigious work in analyzing the impact of the now-abandoned pay model at the New York Times. The eight parts of “The TimesSelect Reader,” his report, are all worth reading.
Key finding: Despite complaints from bloggers (including this one), the pay site did not begin to remove the Times columnists from the national conversation. If the columnists didn’t show up in Google searches, he says, that’s because of a Google policy.
Moreover, he writes in an email:
There is a solution for newspapers to charge money to readers who want to pay money for a premium service of news. I don’t know if it’s a viable market, but I have discussed in some more depth in this series and feel it should considered as well.
Also, tying in a point that I made in a previous series: while people fretted about the $10 million made by the NYT in what was clearly a willful contract, no one in the mediasphere has commented on the fact that the Fox News Channel, after renegotiating their carriage fees a year ago, was now pulling down $850 million from American cable viewers. I think the economics of this bears further consideration by people who care about the future of news.