I think this is a terrible idea. That said, I disagree with Yglesias on this:
A few points. First, I’m not sure how much “catching on” this idea could possibly do. A big part of the selling point of The New York is that it’s “the best newspaper in the world.” I can see why you would pay money to read the best newspaper in the world. But why would you pay money to read the sixth-best newspaper in the world?
Isn’t this like saying, “I can see why you would pay money to drive the best car in the world, but not the sixth best car in the world?” Or the best olive oil? Or the best coffee? People buy “inferior” newspapers for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they do things like, you know, cover the area in which those people live better than the Times does. When I lived in Boston, I read the Globe (but hell, half of their articles were from the Times anway). When I lived in Montreal, I read the Gazette and the Globe and Mail. Here in Portland, I buy the Times on Sunday, and if I feel like reading a paper during the week, I buy the Oregonian.
Here in Portland, I also buy Stumptown Coffee (which is, I might add, the best coffee in the world). But when I go to Boston, I’m content with Dunkin’ Donuts (which doesn’t even rank). People pay money for all sorts of things, convenience among them. That’s why there are many, many newspapers in the world, not just the “best one.”