Newsday

Growing up I read  Newsday on a daily basis (might have something to do with Dear Abby and the comic section) and the New York Times over the weekend.

After moving abroad 5+ years ago, I still like to keep track of whats going on in my hometown and State. My parents still live there and Long Island holds a special place in my heart.  I regularly open up Newsday’s website to keep up with the local news but have been quite dissapointed with both the quality of the articles and espeically the redesign of the site.  In my opinion it is the complete opposite of a user friendly site.

But that will all change come Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Newsday is changing its model from a fremium (free content) to a premium (pay for content) site. I am astounded that Cablevision (the parent owner of Newsday and Optimum Online) came to the conclusion that their content was worth a monthly fee.  I am more astounded at their “package deal” -Optimum Online customers have free access to the online news site.

Newsday does not provide me with articles or news I cant find anywhere else (for free).  It is a site I use out of nostalgia and I know I am one out of numerous folks who read  Newsday online for nostalgic reasons.

According to an article in Newsday about the upcoming changed, advertising revenue are down and this is a solution to combat the declining profits.  John Morton, head of the Morton Research Inc., a Silver Spring, Md.-based media consulting firm,  was quoted as saying “the current model of free online content is not a “rational model.” and “Despite the false premise that has been floating around for the last 19 years, that information on the Internet wants to be free, [it] is just not true,” Morton said. “People have always been willing to pay for information they have felt was useful to them.”

The inherit argument John is making is flawed. In this day and age – unless you are providing your readers with content that cannot be found elsewhere readers are not going to pay for it.  It is that simple. Wall Street Journal has a premium service for specific articles that are only found on their site and no where else  which is why readers are willing to pay for it.  I can easily open up the New York Post or The Long Island Press and read free content.

It is a shame that the newspaper and its owners cannot think outside the box to find new verticals to generate revenue and I  have a few ideas (the first starting with a redesign of the site) .

Turning a freemium site into a premium site for content easily available elsewhere will kill the site. And as an avid reader of Newsday for almost 24 years, I would be sad to see that happen.

(oh and ps.. I couldnt find a link to a website for Morton Research Inc and yet they are a media consulting firm which makes me wonder doubt how a business can talk about the internet and not have a corporate website. )

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