Today is a watershed day for the media but not in a good way. In Colorado, in what is the surest sign of a very troubled industry, the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News has closed its doors. Throughout the nation — from Philadelphia to San Francisco — newspapers are facing extinction.
In New York, the so-called media capital of the world, Newsday, the Cablevision-owned, Long Island-based daily, is in trouble. The paper’s parent company had to take a $404.2 million write-down on Newsday after the paper, according to the AP, “recorded an operating loss of $407.6 million on $107.1 million in revenue.”
In light of this dire financial situation, Newsday is planning to charge for all online access to the paper. Facing a highly competitive online world that hasn’t matured economically, this move could be the deathknell for Long Island’s own paper.
PaidContent.org, the industry site for online content, had more about Newsday’s decision and what it might mean for their business model:
While financial pubs like WSJ.com and FT.com have been able to get away with asking readers to cough up subscription fees because business professionals are more willing to pay for specialized business news, the thought of a general newspaper doing so when so much is free is largely considered dubious. Still, the challenges newspapers are dealing with leaves them little choice but to try to get money directly from users.
Newsosaur’s Alan D. Mutter, told me he believes Newsday has a shot, but within limits. “Yes, I think they can start charging for web content. More and more publishers will, because they can’t afford to produce content without doing so. You can’t charge for sports scores, stock prices or generic breaking news. The key will be providing content that is valuable and exclusive.”
Basically, Newsday is banking on more revenue through paid subscribers than they could generate through advertising money on a higher-trafficked but still free site. I think this could work if they keep their extensive blogs free.
On the baseball front, it’s hard to consider this good news, and while RAB has contributed content to the paper’s Yankee blog, it would be tough to see the paper hide its daily work behind a paid wall. Gone would be the words of Wallace Matthews, Ken Davidoff and Kat O’Brien. If the free blog posts live on though, Newsday can still drive daily visitors to its site for dynamic content, and it can maintain its place in the sports media world. No matter the outcome, though, it’s tough out there for a newspaper.