Many enjoy the satisfying early morning thwack of the newsprint to wood, or pavement, and for good reason. The printed newspaper business, a dying art that combines all that is good in life, might be in it's initial death throes. But newspapers themselves are not the ones that should be too worried. Reporting, and some metamorphose of the paper will exist, even if merely online.
The New York Times has finally decided to get with the times, and starting Tuesday at midnight, the online edition of the paper will be completely free to all those who wish to cruise it's oceanic website. Has the NYT finally understood the nature of the market, and the large pool of younger readers who in the majority get their news online? To some extent. But truly, the Times has realized that the opportunity cost of keeping subscribers was killing them, in comparison to the money they could reel in from advertisements. If access was free, the thinking is people would automatically choose the Times over less prestigious papers, and therefore the traffic on the sight would increase exponentially, heightening the ability of Times advertising slots to go through the roof. Also, they get their own self promotion - people might realize the quality and scope of the paper, and wish to order a paper subscription, even though they could read the whole paper online and reduce their corneas to shriveled discs anytime they so desired.
Despite their self-interested reasons for making this subscription product free, it is also one of the great proofs that perhaps our economic system isn't so bad - how can you not be excited about free access to virtually the past twenty years of (mostly) top-tier reporting? And a searchable database with access to old archives of reports spanning 1851-1923? Now if only you could get the same satisfying feeling as that early morning thud of the pages on your doorstep via the computer. They should work on that.