Since the Times swept its website behind a paywall, its content is almost unique amongst UK newspapers in being inaccessible to the general public - only a relative handful of print and online subscribers can now read what appears therein. Clay Shirky says it is now a newsletter. Emily Bell says that it "conceivably has outlived its editorial purpose as a lever of influence." And yet we continue to list it as the UK's primary newspaper of record. I do not believe it should be any longer so regarded, and have knocked up a poll to assess the matter - click here if you'd like to vote.
"Newspaper of record" can mean two things. Formally, it means a publication defined by a government as the entity in which legal notices must be placed. However, it is more commonly used in its informal sense as "any major newspaper that has a large circulation and whose editorial and news-gathering functions are considered professional and typically authoritative." One might quibble that the newspaper is as accessible as ever. It would require a disingenuously antediluvian definition of what a "newspaper" now is to do so.
The informal sense is used as a matter of consensus - in this sense the Times is the UK's paper of record because we all agree it is. I think it time to revise that agreement. If we need a newspaper of record, it should at least be one we can all see. Again, click here if you'd like to vote. I'll post up the results in a week or so and let you know whether there's a new consensus.