Newsday Writer Leaves Due To ‘Pay For Access’ Decision

    November 2, 2009

Here’s an interesting twist on the ‘pay for access to conten’t dilemma that faces the newspaper industry these days. Newspapers who do this may actually lose a writer or two! While it’s not likely that staffers at any newspaper are looking to just walk out the door to another job because there really aren’t any but you may get some that are going to walk n principle.

A case in point is what happened at New York Newsday. The New York Times reports

Customers of Cablevision, the cable and Internet provider that owns Newsday, and people who subscribe to Newsday in print will still be able to browse unfettered. But Newsday recently announced that everyone else will have to pay $5 a week to see much of the site, making it one of the few newspapers in the country to take such a plunge.

As a result of this announcement long time columnist Saul Friedman threw in the pen, so to speak, and walked.

In an interview, Mr. Friedman said, “My column has been popular around the country, but now it was really going to be impossible for people outside Long Island to read it.” That includes him; living outside Washington, he is not a subscriber to Newsday or Cablevision.

This sounds like a real bold move I know but now the cynic in me (which I love and hate all at once) has to take into account the fact that Mr. Friedman is 80 years old. Not exactly the prime of his career but he could go on writing for many, many, many more years (and I sincerely hope he does). While this is noble it’s not the same as if some newspaper industry giant walked away from a central job at a huge paper to make the point. Once again, I am not trying to minimize what Mr. Friedman is saying but I am trying to see this in context.

I’m actually more interested in how many people are willing to spend the $5 a week for the paper online? If they are not sacrificing their current subscribers and most of the New York region is a Cablevision subscriber is Newsday really doing anything here other than trying to make a few bucks? There are quite a few folks who have left the New York area for other areas of the country but most don’t check back on the local media but occasionally (I am one of those). If I had to pay $5 a week for it I would go without it for sure because it is for fun and not a necessity.

If you have moved from somewhere would you pay for access to the local media to keep up? All of you transplants from Chicago, LA, Philly etc do you care that much about what happens ‘back home’?