Yeah, that price is for researchers and other media using their stories.
Archival services have been charging an arm and a leg for ages here (and I think it’s the same in other areas) - the difference is just that now some smaller newspapers can host their own archives online and instead of a special log-in process, they just use the regular web.
They have a frontpage with free content and whatnot.
Now, I’m not saying that traditional media has got pricing right or that they aren’t completely at a loss as to how they use the net - but giving away their archives have never been part of the business model.
Sure, that’s what libraries are great for. They also often have access to all sorts of archives you can access from their computers. But they spend money for that access, so while it’s free for you, someone still gets paid.