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Newsday Ups the Ante

By Mike Silva ~ October 22nd, 2009. Filed under: Sports Media Commentary.

This morning the New York Newsday announced that their online newspaper will be the first to charge for content.

According to the newsday.com “Those who are not customers of Optimum Online or the newspaper - both owned by Cablevision will have to pay a $5 weekly fee. However, nonpaying customers will have access to some of newsday.com’s information, including the home page, school closings, weather, obituaries, classified and entertainment listings. There also will be some limited access to Newsday stories.”

So what do you think? Reading the comments over at Neil Best Watchdog tells me many are unhappy. I am an Optimum Online customer so this has no impact on my bottom line. However, I did some quick math.

Currently I believe Newsday is 75 cents for a paper. If you bought the paper every day it would cost you $273 bucks a year. The online edition will be $13 less. Is this worth it?

From a sports fan perspective I say yes. Ken Davidoff, Alan Hahn, and Neil Best are three of my favorite reporters in all of sports. Jim Baumbach and the guys at “The Final Score” do some great work as well. With that said I am not sure if content in the entire paper is worth me paying when the Daily News, Post, and NY Times are free. A physical newspaper has become nothing more than a tool to pass the time while eating, on the john, or commuting. With iPhone’s and Blackberry’s the third part of that equation is quickly fading. Can Newsday procure the talent across the newspaper that will make non sports fans pony up the money? My thought is a resounding no, but what they will do is start a trend in the industry. If Newsday can charge than the others will have every right. Perhaps there will there be a paper that “rolls the dice” and waits for all others to convert to the subscriber model and announce they are keeping their online content free. That may drive additional traffic, and with that, ad revenue.

You really can’t blame Newsday. When it comes down to we are in difficult economic times and companies can’t justify advertising on the internet. We are paying for the Ivy League empty suits that run corporations. Balance sheets dry up since many modern CEO’s have little clue how to connect with their customers. You can bully your employees, but you can’t bully the public (unless you are the government) into spending money on your product. One of the residual effects of this comes in the form of advertising which is obviously at the heart of newspaper revenue.

Obviously I couldn’t justify paying this same rate for all three local papers. If the Daily News and Post follow suit you are looking at a little over $700 dollars a year for the news. I guess you can argue that coffee costs far more, but outside of opinion what do we really need the newspaper for? Someone will give us the box scores, and there are tons of other places to get news on politics. Can newspapers continue to develop strong reporters that are able to provide an opinion worth reading, much less paying for? Newsday has done that with individuals like Davidoff, but for every one of him there are probably double the amount of duds, as well talent being held back by obtuse management.

As for those that proclaim “gloom and doom” for Newsday I would think twice. First, don’t you think they already looked into the impact of the subscriber model? They aren’t going to lose Optimum and Newsday customers. I bet that is a huge portion of their base. Even if they get 25% of the rest it probably is viewed as a win by the paper. Remember, top talent doesn’t come cheap.

I think the bigger issue is papers, like Newsday, need to evaluate the print portion of their business. I would hate for more people to lose their jobs, but there is no need for all these physical papers. They are costly and unnecessary Perhaps that would help reduce the cost from $5 a week to something more palpable to the paying public. Regardless Newsday has upped the ante in the newspaper business. Hopefully their content continues to improve along with the rising cost of reading their website. Who, What, Why, When, and How isn’t enough anymore.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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1 Response to Newsday Ups the Ante

  1. DUDX

    Newsday is going to learn what the leftis NY Times did: Nobody pays for news that has a political slant, and is out of touch with mainstream America. Goodbye, Newsday. I never liked you.

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