The New York Times announced today that it will be discontinuing its Times Select service as of this evening. For those of you who don’t read America’s best newspaper (which, unlike the Wall Street Journal, isn’t run by a neoconservative cabal), the NYT started Times Select a few years back to try to capitalize on some of their most exclusive content. In addition to restricting the archives, the NYT also restricted some of the best columnists you can find online or off. The likes of economics professor Paul Krugman, author Thomas Friedman, law school professor Stanley Fish or socialite Maureen Dowd were for paying customers only.

No doubt Times Select was worth it (or at least 227,000 paid subscribers thought so). However, the $10 million they made off the service annually obviously wasn’t worth the effort. Not only would advertising pay more, but making their Times Select content available for free (again) would better serve the New York Times brand. As an avid reader of the NYT (who started reading America’s second-best paper, The Washington Post for opinions and editorials when Times Select first came out), I am quite excited at the development. I won’t knock the Post — unlike USA Today it has a readership beyond America’s hotel rooms, but it’s still not the NYT. And no matter what people say about the democratization of social media as they participate in the great blogosphere (how I loathe that word) circle jerk, the facts are hard to avoid: Good news and commentary are becoming harder and harder to find in the blogging-driven Age of the Gibbering Yard Ape. I for one am glad that the New York Times is once again making their best and brightest available to us all.