I didn’t want to pay for premium content on The New York Times site. For most of college and graduate school, I started my day off surfing NYTimes.com website for free. So when I awoke one morning last year and was confronted by a gothic orange T guarding my weekly dose of Paul Krugman, I was actually outraged. How dare they try to make me pay for the news. It’s bad enough having to pay for music, but the news?

I don’t need Esther Dyson to remind me that everything has its price or that since I pay for this, I should probably also pay for that. I eventually didn’t mind paying nearly a dollar a song for music, but news content?

Furthermore, even if I had to pay for news content, I wasn’t paying for a regular article. I was paying for the Op-Ed pieces. I had this idea that Paul Krugman wouldn’t want me to pay for his Op-Ed pieces. Why would he, a distinguished academic, a thinker, a brilliant economist with a post at Princeton University, have started writing for The Times if he expected that they would charge his fans, his loyal readers one day? You write in order to be read, not so you can charge your readers by the word. If that was the case, he would be doing birthday parties and reunions. The New York Times, of all newspapers(!), was holding his Ivy intellect for ransom.

It struck me as bizarre and misguided for a top tier newspaper to suddenly demand that I pay for what was, until recently, available at no cost. I did not depend on reading the news to be able to get out the door. I could change my habit, especially if I was outraged. I had plenty of alternatives.

I didn’t even care about The Times particularly. I cared about Paul Krugman and what he had to say on a weekly basis. I, who cited him in papers, who bought his books and who held him up as an example when I disagreed with my economics professors, was probably the kind of person who should whip out a credit card to assuage that money hungry media beast. Instead, of responding to their marketing strategy, last year, I have simply gotten up and walked away from The New York Times, convinced in my belief that if I refused to upgrade to Times Select, they would drop it and let the masses read their Krugman Op-Eds again for free.

Then last week, the Online Publishers Association, in conjection with comScore research, released their Online Paid Content: U.S. Market Spending Report. According to the results of the report, paid content reached the $ 2 billion mark last year, primarily driven by online music sales. Two thirds of online content spending was on the Entertainment/Lifestyles (digital music, humor, recipes, multimedia sites), Personals/Dating(Match.com, eHarmony, etc.) and Business Content/Investment categories(WSJ.com, fool.com). The report also made it crystal-clear that subscription pricing is the dominant pricing/revenue model. Knowing that reports like these make marketers drool, I suppose I must be resigned to paying for the online versions of top tier newspapers and news magazines now.

I was told by a senior marketing manager at NYTimes.com that the publication had not recouped the original number of readers since implementing the Times Select membership. But that doesn’t seem to matter to management too much in the short run. In the long run, I have a feeling most of us will get over it, take our credit cards out and, in fifty years, forget that NYT news content was ever free.