RealTime IT News

Grey Lady Charging Green

The New York Times Co. said it will start charging for some of its online content beginning in September, moving away from the free service model that has been almost universal in the newspaper trade.

The media company says it will offer a package of online content known as TimesSelect for $49.95 a year. It will include access to op-ed and sports columnists, such as Tom Friedman, Frank Rich and George Vescey, as well as access archived stories.

The service will be provided free to subscribers of the paper's print edition.

In a statement released late Monday, the paper said most of the news, features and photos on NYTimes.com will remain free and available to Web users.

"By keeping the majority of the site free, we will continue to scale the business through strong advertising growth," Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, said in a statement.

TimesSelect members will have early access to articles that will appear in feature sections, such as Real Estate, The New York Times Magazine, Travel and Sunday Arts. The service will also include some exclusive online content, including audio and photo essays, video and podcasts that can be downloaded, according to the company.

Although The Times isn't the first major newspaper player to charge for online content -- The Wall Street Journal charges for its service -- the Grey Lady's online addition will be the first to differentiate between free content and paid content.

The Times Company said since it launched its digital operations in the mid-90s, it has had three business objectives -- profitability, scale and revenue diversification.

In 2001 the company's digital properties achieved profitability, and earlier this year, the acquisition of About.com, increased its scale. The launch of TimesSelect further diversifies their revenue base.

Shares of the company rose 20 cents to close at $32.92.