I’m an occasional source for Newsday writer John Jeansonne, so I take an occasional, ego-driven interest in what goes on at that paper. What goes on now? Probably the end of my reading of Newsday:
Cablevision Systems Corp plans to charge online readers of its Newsday newspaper, a move that would make it one of the first large U.S. papers to reverse a trend toward free Web readership.
The paper said in a statement late on Thursday that it is in the process of transforming the site into a locally focused cable service.
Newsday, which covers the New York suburb of Long Island, was bought by Cablevision in a $650 million deal last May that was widely criticized on Wall Street as a puzzling move into a troubled newspaper market.
Cablevision had to write down Newsday’s value by $402 million on Thursday, pushing its fourth-quarter results to a loss, as U.S. print advertising sales and circulation have dropped with more readers seeking free news on the Web.
I hate to be so cavalier about saying “smell ya later Newsday, but I ain’t readin’ ya anymore!” but that’s just how it is. I am sympathetic to the plight of newspapers and I truly do want to see them succeed and continue in some form, but as things currently sit, there’s no way I can bring myself to pay for any one paper’s content. If this blog is evidence of anything, it’s evidence that it takes the consumption of dozens if not scores of news sources to get anything approaching a comprehensive view of a subject in which you have a real interest, and my budget simply isn’t set up to subscribe to dozens or scores of pay-for-content sites.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but the piecemeal conversion to pay-for-content certainly ain’t it.