Is this another breakthrough moment in the evolution of the internet as a news medium? The New York Times has just announced it’s going to make readers pay to read its columnists online, as it reports here.

The NYT is setting up a new subscription-based service to be called TimesSelect, which will carry the columnists from the NYT and its sister newspaper, the International Herald Tribune, and will cost US$49.95 a year. Most of the other content on the NYT website, NYTimes.com, will remain free to users.

“This is an important step in showing that publishers with
respected brands and strong content now recognise that subscription
revenues are just as important online as they have always been in
print,” says Gordon Crovitz, the executive vice-president of electronic
publishing at Dow Jones, which owns The Wall Street Journal.
“We’ve never understood why other publishers would give away valued
brands and content in one medium, while charging in another medium.” He
points out that more than 730,000 subscribers now pay to access The Wall Street Journal Online – “which should encourage other publishers to charge online just as they do in print.”