Paul Ford bucks the trend, complimenting the New York Times for its plan to charge $49.95 a year for archives and the op-ed section:
Look at the quality of premium cable TV over the last two decades, when compared to the quality of network TV over the same timespan, to see what happens to content when advertisers are the main source of cash.
Interesting comparison, but I think it's far easier for HBO to beat six broadcast networks than for the Times to beat a teeming horde of free online papers and bloggers.
I agree with your last sentence but for one reason only: because 1 blogger can pay for and read the Times subscription site and then report the good stuff for free to the rest of us.
As far as quality goes, "teeming horde" doesn't exactly mean "high quality" and that is the point Paul Ford was making. "Teeming horde" means "quantity" and that is the basis for advertising rates. A site that charges for content MUST have quality, otherwise their subscribers will leave.