Newsday to charge for online access

Joba treats Nebraska family to a Disney vacation
Open Thread: A loss to the Twins and Friday randomness

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.

Joba treats Nebraska family to a Disney vacation
Open Thread: A loss to the Twins and Friday randomness
  • Tom Zig

    Maybe some “B-jobbers” can go the way of the newspapers too

  • Drew

    If they make us pay we’ll find it free..

  • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

    Wow. Well the bright side is that the more these mainstream sports media-outlets fall apart, the likelier that more enlightened sites like RAB gain additional popularity.

  • Ed

    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.

    For Newsday in particular, that may be the case.

    But I think if Pete Abe’s blog suddenly required a subscription, I think it would generate a lot of money.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Without having any numbers to back it up, I’d say that’s not the case. Look at what happened with the NYT when they tried Times Select. People didn’t sign up in droves for it, and the popularity of their columnists waned. Now that everything is free again, the popularity has skyrocketed.

      What PeteAbe brings to the table isn’t unique enough to charge for it. There are just too many other Yankee bloggers, beatwriters or not, that can do what he does and who do it without charging for access.

      • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

        PeteAbe making his blog subscription based is the best possible thing that could happen to you guys. And it would be worth it just to see the amazingly hilarious things NoMaas would write too.

        • whozat

          Dude, then all those people would come HERE!!!

          It’d be horrible.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Exactly. I think the key is the niche and the uniqueness/importance of the source.

        I pay the extra money for ESPN Insider because it gives me things like Scouts Inc. for detailed NFL Draft prospect information, or Neyer. I would pay for LEXIS/NEXIS access (if my employer didn’t already provide it for me) for it’s depth of information. If I were a financial professional, I’d pay for services like Bloomberg and junk like that.

        But just a general paper? With no notably singular voices to draw traffic to it, like a Clarence Page or a George Will? I doubt charging for general, non-niche news and information works.

        When the NYT charged a fee, I stopped frequenting the site and went to other newspapers of record like the Washington Post and the like. When they opened the site back up, I returned.

        People don’t pay for what they can get for free. Newsday needs to have a singularity that forces customers to consider not having their information worse than paying for their information.

        • Steve H

          Do you get the Insider thru ESPN the Mag subscription? If not you should, it costs about 1/3 of what the Insider actually costs. And you can just burn ESPN the Mag for heat, it’s pretty useless.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I do. I actually give my ESPN the Mag subscription to my 15 year old nephew. (I’m trying to encourage him to read more and build up his vocabulary; when I was a kid I read the newspaper every day… at least the sports section of it.)

    • Tommy S.

      The reason these newspapers are hurting aren’t only because of the internet, look at the newspapers that are hurting right now, they are pretty much all filled with liberal editorials. People are tired of that crap. The only people that buy into those ideals are people who are on welfare or people who are generally uneducated, with the exception of a few people who actually buy into that crap, and the majority of those people don’t read the paper. These papers have alienated their readers who are tired of such biased and one sided news. It just sucks because these papers have good sports sections, it’s just a shame that we might lose some quality sports writing because of the liberal agenda.

  • The Evil Empire

    A little off topic:
    What’s the Red Sux equivalent to RAB?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      We’ve tried to figure that out ourselves. There isn’t one really. Fire Brand is probably the top non-traditional-media-affiliated blog, but it’s not nearly on the same level of traffic or posting frequency as RAB.

      • 50

        das was up

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        That’s because RAB is a popular Yankee blog with intelligent thought and intellectual conversation.

        “Intelligent thought and intellectual conversation” and Red Sox fans are mutually exclusive concepts.

  • Jake H

    I wouldn’t pay for access to newsday online.

    • Tom Zig

      I won’t even buy the paper copy. I do occasionally buy the Post and Daily News though.

  • Ricky

    Man, it sucks that Rocky Mountain News had to close. I read that frequently.

  • Tom

    This has 110% chance of failing.

  • Rich

    Times Select was a failure. I would expect this to fail as well.

  • Babe’s Ghost

    Personally, I’ve found that the MSM does a great job attending press conferences and disseminating press releases. They do a fair job breaking news and doing investigations. (It’s good when it happens, but relatively infrequent) But they are generally terrible at analysis. I prefer to get my analysis from subject matter experts and the best place to find it is in blogs. Whether it’s Stratfor for security, RGE monitor for finance or Hardball Times for baseball, there’s nothing in the Newsday, or the NYT for that matter, that can compete.

    Is there anyone at Newsday who influences what you think? Davidoff is the closest, but ultimately I would say no. Same goes for the rest of the local papers. There’s people who I read because they’re superb writers and there’s people who I read because they’re expert trolls, but if it came down to paying, I’d rather fork it over to MLB.TV and watch for myself then come down here and talk about it with the peeps.

    I’d pick Jamal over Tyler or Kat any day.

  • Thomas A. Anderson

    There has been a natural progression in the manner in which information gets disseminated. And that progression seems to occur more rapidly as time goes on, sorta like a logarithm.

    At first glance this news made me kind of uneasy because I studied journalism for the last 2-1/2 years of college and even changed my major to it. But in reality, professionally written work will just be funneled toward the web or broadcast. The standards, practices, of the craft will no doubt change, but for most young writers, it will be a matter of a shift in medium.

    The simple fact is, with the fast-pace of society only getting faster, people aren’t going to be tied down to a newspaper as their primary source for information. Why should a person wait for the morning paper to get information when you can go online and get up-to-the-minute updates on a story with almost instant analysis? You wouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense to wait to get old information and pay for it on top of that.

    The birth of the mainstream Internet in 1993 was really the end of the newspaper industry. It’s just taken 15 years for it to really become noticeable to everyone.

  • Kyle

    So now we are expected to PAY for Liberal BS in newspapers?

    If bad guys start robbing these newspapers companies they deserve every red penny stolen.

    Most people who are aware do not want to pay for Liberal knee jerk articles.