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Newsday Gets 35 Subscriptions To Pay Web Site

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-thats-lucrative dept.

The Media 177

Hugh Pickens writes "In late October, Newsday put its web site behind a pay wall, one of the first non-business newspapers to take the pay wall plunge, so Newsday has been followed with interest in media circles anxious to learn how the NY Times own plans to put up a pay wall may work out. So how successful has Newsday's paywall been? The NY Observer reports that three months into the experiment only 35 people have signed up to pay $5 a week to get unfettered access to newsday.com. Newsday's web site redesign and relaunch reportedly cost about $4 million and the 35 people who've signed up have earned Newsday about $9,000. Still publisher Terry Jimenez is unapologetic. 'That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been,' said Jimenez to his assembled staff, according to five interviews with Newsday employees. The web project has not been a favorite among Newsday employees who have recently been asked to take a 10 percent pay cut. 'The view of the newsroom is the web site sucks,' says one staffer. 'It's an abomination,' adds another."

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Ha! (4, Insightful)

ancientt (569920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917588)

Ha! Take that long standing respectable media. Funny, I'd bet they'd be better off without a website at all. Now there is a way to fix this, though I'm interested in feedback before I try to do anything about it. What we need is a micro-payment aggregation service combined with an advertisement blocking proxy server. Opera is doing the rebuilding on the fly for smaller and faster page loads, and if they combined that with an ad-blocking service for $10/yr and had a "$.02" payment button that sites like Newsday could contract for, then everybody would win.

Re:Ha! (5, Interesting)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917770)

This is similar to the experience they had over at Salon. This was one of my favorite places to get news until they put up a pay wall, and in December they talked about how it hard hurt their traffic.

This is a great read, for people who actually care about the discussion of pay walls vs free.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/03/memories-paywall-pioneer [guardian.co.uk]

It "worked" for us in that it provided some revenue for Salon to survive through the leanest period of its existence. (We'd already completed the latest of three rounds of layoffs, and the entire staff took pay cuts, three weeks before 9/11.) But within a few months, as advertisers began dipping their toes back in the water and the influx of new subscribers who'd flocked to help us out in a crisis dwindled, we could see that the subscription model didn't provide much room for growth. So we tried something new: we put up an ad over the front door of the site. Subscribers wouldn't see it at all; other readers had to watch a 30-second video ad, then they got a "day pass."

The day pass approach was beloved by the advertisers and hated by many, though not all, readers. More important, by this point the public was, understandably, thoroughly confused about how to get to read Salon content. It took many years for our traffic to begin to grow again. Paywalls are psychological as much as navigational, and it's a lot easier to put them up than to take them down. Once web users get it in their head that your site is "closed" to them, if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it's extremely difficult to get that word out.

Re:Ha! (4, Interesting)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917918)

There are many things like this where you can alienate of confuse your customer base so much that you simply doom any chance to rollback to your previous state.

There was a wonderful "dollar" theater around here. It wasn't really all that big but it was well liked and got a fair amount of business. One day for whatever reason, they changed to become a full-fledged cinema. It seems they thought their volume would justify switching.

Well... one-by-one all their customers found out they were charging full-fare and running the latest films. And one-by-one, these folk scratched this theater off their lists. If someone was seeking a dollar theater, this was no longer one of those. If someone wanted to pay full-rate, this theater couldn't hope to compare with the major cineplexes. But when I mean folk nixed it, I mean completely. Everyone just moved on and forgot about it.

They vainly attempted to change back to a dollar theater. But they had no more customer base. Hardly any at all. They closed shop entirely soon after that.

The Internet and Web is a vastly larger marketplace than the neighborhood movie market. It would seem far easier for people to find what you're pushing somewhere else.

Re:Ha! (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918240)

Fox East in Mt. Penn?

Re:Ha! (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918134)

For me the issue has always been video. I refuse to watch a video to read text. A splash image ad that requires click through would be more reasonable. But even then, what do you do with a Kindle?

Re:Ha! (3, Funny)

chudnall (514856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918282)

if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it's extremely difficult to get that word out.

Salon doesn't have a paywall anymore?

Re:Ha! (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918964)

I just tried it and it worked fine. They seemed to have gotten rid of that ad wall (unless my browser blocked it.)

Re:Ha! (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917794)

Lets be fair. Subscribers to the "print" edition also have access to the electronic edition as well as subscribers to the local cable company (I'm sure they get some money generated from that one, too).

 

Re:Ha! (4, Insightful)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918334)

And furthermore, it's actually less expensive to buy a Newsday print subscription than it is to get just the electronic access, so the article could really be rephrased as "Thirty-five people pay extra to not get a real newspaper."

"Free Online Newspaper With Your HBO" (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917892)

That's how I have heard this categorized here in the NY area. See, if you are a Cablevision/Optimum Online sub, you get Newsday Online for free. "That's a $260 Value -- If You Sign Before Midnight Tonight!"

Remember, Newsday is owned by The Dolans, the certifiably insane family that also owns and/or operates Madison Square Garden, the Knicks, the Rangers, the Liberty, Clearview Cinemas, the Beacon Theater, Radio Friggin' Music Hall, and prolly my toaster oven as well, haven't checked lately. This isn't about love or money for the newspaper, this is about things like "synergies" and "paradigms" and "leverage." These are the kind of robber baron sociopaths who would burn an orphanage they own to the ground if the price of diapers got higher than they had budgeted, or they needed to light a lot of their cigars at once and they only had one match left.

Re:Ha! (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918052)

The problem is that newpapers are completely dead, the body simply has not stopped moving.

I can get my news HOURS after it has happened or get it from my various RSS feeds seconds to minutes afterwards. Plus I get to filter it to have only what I want.

Short of puppy training, wrapping dishes, and for poop paper for a bird cage, a newspaper has ZERO value. Even web based they are slow to react and usually are only repeating what I have already read from the various feeds I have.

There is no way to save the newspaper business. Ebooks might if the media companies get off their asses and not only publish a daily release but also update it's contents every 15 minutes.

Re:Ha! (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918120)

Nonetheless I like copy and pasting the news to forums I like. I wonder if the news will be drmed to prevent me from cutting and pasting, or they will hunt me down for stealing their news articles?

Re:Ha! (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918252)

I don't think updating every 15 minutes is needed, but I can see that once a day wouldn't be enough I think.
Funny, it's almost like a full circle. Ebooks and internet delivery systems might bring back the evening edition of newspapers.

Re:Ha! (5, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918754)

I don't think a newspaper has to be entirely irrelevant. There's little news so vital to me that I can't wait a few hours to hear it, one area traditional media could compete is quality. Well-written, thought-out articles with fact checking (remember that?) would be a value proposition that many of the internet sources, with their rush to be first to publish couldn't afford. If you're not going to print for several hours, use that time to make what you print much better than everyone else and I would happily consume your product because I only have to read it once, not read countless rumours, counter-claims, retractions, etc.

Unfortunately this type of quality reporting was dead even before the internet came along. There just wasn't a suitable alternative at the time to eat their lunch, the 'net just happened to be the first one that came along and fit the bill. The internet didn't kill traditional newspapers, they committed suicide a long time ago.

Re:Ha! (1)

denton420 (1235028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919048)

I read about events that happen on the internet in short headlines to get an idea of what is happening.

When my Economist comes to my door on Monday I read the articles for the commentary which is usually quite good compared to the drivel I find on the internet.

If I cant wait I can also log into their pay website and read things on my computer screen.

The problem is newspapers don't offer insightful analysis.

The Economist actually offered a very good piece on network effects and how newspapers have been shaped by them.

http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15108618 [economist.com]

If you study the history of the newspaper you will see that the propagation of news was slow in the 1800s. To make up for this, newspapers were heavily based on analysis, prediction, and opinion to pull in readers. Of course, over time this process has been reversed slightly but the trend has left its mark.

The internet is simply sorting through the newspapers that offer quality analysis and chucking the rest.

I no longer need someone to find out facts that the internet finds for me! It is simply a machine doing the job that a person used to do.

When you improve efficiency in production you often cut jobs. (think robots doing human work)

When you improve efficiency in news reporting you often cut news sources!

It is a very simple parallel and I cannot stand the constant claims of entitlement by the industry.

You are not special, adapt or be destroyed.

So please, improve the content of your paper or go off into a corner and die quietly. I am certain that the newspapers that deserve to survive this transformation will!

My personal prediction is that the weekly newspaper will maintain its position while daily newspapers will be all but forgotten in the future. Probably a biased view since I get most of my news from a weekly source but I do believe that it is the perfect balance.

Instant simple facts from the internet with insightful commentary that I pay for on a weekly basis. Throw in a weekly/monthly science magazine and you are set!

Re:Ha! (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918294)

Ha! Take that long standing respectable media. Funny, I'd bet they'd be better off without a website at all.

No kidding. The summary itself tells you that - they spent $4 million and they've earned $9,000 in about three months. By my reckoning with the current expansion rate they can expect to have 1,000 users some time around the year 2017. But 1,000 users is only $60,000 in subscriptions per year, at which rate you're looking at making the investment back in the year 2076.

Re:Ha! (2, Interesting)

b00le (714402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919184)

I'm waiting to see what happens at New Scientist. They are only letting non-subscribers see 7 articles a month -- essentially nil, since it's a weekly magazine. It's really expensive, especially if you don't live in the UK. There's no web-only subscription (I wrote and asked: they recommended the digital version of the magazine but that doesn't seem to come with a subscription to the site...). Now, this is the second time they've tried this. I don't know how long the first one lasted: I went away and came back one day to find they'd given up on it. This time I'll be able to see when they quit because the protection is reeeeally easy to defeat and I'm using the site as much as I ever did.... I don't know what the answer is. The day pass that Salon used to use was fine with me: I didn't have to watch the ads, that were never for anything I'd want, in fact I never pay any attention at all to advertising, because I have very little disposable income.... But whatever the solution to paying for content is, it's not going to be an accountant or 'manager' who figures it out.

Alternative way in (5, Informative)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917638)

Horrible business model aside... it should be noted that anyone with Optimum Online (cablevision's ISP, basically the only cable ISP on Long Island) can access Newsday for free. (Newsday is owned by Cablevision.) So it's not like 35 people are "subscribed" .... 35 people are paying extra for it.

Re:Alternative way in (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918284)

I wonder how many of those 35 people are also subscribers to Optimum Online and have access for free but just don't know about it?

Re:Alternative way in (3, Informative)

cain (14472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918410)

Their business model is not selling web access to the news though. Their business model is selling eyeballs. And they can tell advertisers that everyone who subscribes to the local cable monopoly (which is 75% of the local population) also reads the web site - ergo, lots of eyeballs to sell. That's why this article is so disingenuous - it is implying that the only revenue stream (or the only business model) of Newsday is to sell subscriptions to the web site. When that is in fact not true at all.

Re:Alternative way in (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919098)

Only if their advertisers are dumb. Advertisers will pay only for real traffic, not potential traffic. Advertisers usually pay per click or per impression (ad served). Low traffic = ad revenue death in the online world.

Re:Alternative way in (3, Informative)

IP_Troll (1097511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918500)

mod parent up.

This isn't about paid subscriptions as much as it is about maintaining a regional lock on ISP choice. News12 Long Island and Newsday are both owned by cablevision. If you use cable vision's ISP, optimum online, you have free access to www.newsday.com [newsday.com] and www.news12.com [news12.com] . Optimum customers never hit a pay wall, they are allowed on the site. If you don't use optimum online, you get hit with a pay wall.

A major reason that Newsday has so few subscriptions is that the majority of the people in the region which these new sources cater to don't even know about subscriptions because non-optimum customers are the only ones that hit a pay-wall.

Re:Alternative way in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918622)

Horrible business model aside... it should be noted that anyone with Optimum Online (cablevision's ISP, basically the only cable ISP on Long Island) can access Newsday for free. (Newsday is owned by Cablevision.) So it's not like 35 people are "subscribed" .... 35 people are paying extra for it.

Which is exactly what the summary says (minus the extra 'have'). That is unless Taco went back and actually edited the summary after you posted this.

Re:Alternative way in (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918850)

Where in the summary does it mention that Optimum Online subscribers get access for free? It, also, does not mention that subscribers to the print version get the online subscription for free (or the one or two other ways that people get free subscription to the online version). Based on the number of people on Long Island who get a free subscription to the online version of Newsday, this tells us nothing about paywalls. From reading the article (which I did on another site before it appeared here), just about everybody on Long Island (which means just about everybody in Newsday's target audience) gets free access to the Newsday website, so the key question is, who are these 35 people who subscribed?

$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917650)

Does anybody know how much a "delivered paper" subscription costs per week? I would guess the online subscription doesn't cost much less. Printing it on paper, folding, collating, and driving it to your door step should cost a whole lot more than copying a file from one server to another.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917834)

$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version?

Man Shot Dead By Saloon
Wild Bill Hickok and those two guys that stole downstairs to save the squarehead kid; tell Ned to stick around so they see what the kid has to say about him. Then he throws down against Hickok and this other cocksucker who draws almost as fast, so it's a toss-up who blew Ned's head off. ... To read more subscribe to the Deadwood Version of Newsday

Opinion: On the Existence of Whiskey
Some goddamn point a man's due to stop arguing with his-self and feeling twice the goddamn fool he knows he is 'cause he can't be something he tries to be every goddamn day without once getting to dinnertime and fucking it up. I don't want to fight it anymore, understand me reader? And I don't want you pissing in my ear about it. Can you let me go to hell the way I want to? ... To read more subscribe to the Deadwood Version of Newsday

too convient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918596)

I think you posted AC to set yourself up, you chucklehead.

BTW, getting a frist p0st as a subscriber is cheating and you should be kick/banned for it.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

mux2000 (832684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918968)

Dear Sir, Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. What?! $5? ...Forget it then.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919018)

Dear Sir, Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. What?! $5? ...Forget it then.

It's probably for the better. Distance yourself as far from Deadwood, SD as possible. Since watching it, I've become considerably more abrasive [youtube.com] .

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917868)

My subscription was $25/mo before I canceled it. The paper delivery person couldn't get the paper to my house before I left at 7:00 AM to go to work. By the time I'd get home all the paper was good for is to start a fire. My city has regulations on how much garbage and recycling you can put out in a given week. Garbage is one week (3 Clear bags of garbage and 1 non-see through black bag for "feminine" products, and other stuff you don't what your neighbors to see), recycling (4 clear blue bags) and compost (large green bin, only for food products no leaves, cardboard or paper) the next week. If we missed a recycling week we would accumulate a months worth of news papers combined with the other cardboard, non-refundable cans and bottles and other packaging. if we put that much out we'd get a red sticker and the city wouldn't take anything which only compounded the issue.

Kermit said it best, "It's not easy being green."

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918170)

So what happens if you throw a party and end up with lots more garbage than normal?

Over here where I live, the cost of labour and living is low. So we have various people going around the neighbourhood collecting newspapers, plastic etc to bring to recycling places which pay them money for it. Some collect paper and newspapers, some collect plastic.

They normally pay you a small sum for a stack of old newspapers, not much $$, but enough so that many people keep them for recycling rather than throw them away.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918504)

So what happens if you throw a party and end up with lots more garbage than normal?

I take it to an apartment building and illegally throw it in to one of their dumpsters since apartment buildings hire private contractors to remove garbage instead of the city doing it. They have no way of knowing who throws what away so the rules are unenforceable for people living in apartment buildings. If I was to get caught I'd have to pay a $400 fine, but compared to what I would spend on gas to drive out of the city to the land fill plus what I'd have to pay to get ride of the garbage, I'm saving money in the long run...

Not that I do that sort of thing a lot. The rules are really only hard to follow if my wife and I are out of town on garbage/recycling day (Saturday for us). We've both taken a Friday off before to go visit her parents and could have, but didn't, put our recycling out on Thursday instead (we were worried about animals getting in to it, the pick up people won't take it if it's spread all over the street).

What you're suppose to do is take it to the landfill yourself and pay to have it accepted

Just as a side note something I've been reading about that the city is thinking of implementing is selling "bag tags". Basically you buy the "bag tags" (Bar-code stickers) from the city to put on your garbage bags. Supposedly you can throw away as much as you want as long as you have enough "bag tags". I'm pretty opposed to the idea since we already pay taxes for garbage collection plus our home is pretty much a pre-recycling/waste disposal centre as it is. This just seems more like a scam to grab up more money while providing no more or less service. Besides *Reaching for the tinfoil hat* I don't want the city to track what I throw away. How can I be sure the bar-code isn't used to track where the bags were collected from? what if someone uses one of my garbage bags to get ride of their collection of child porn before or after the bag has been picked up? Before you know it the cops will be banging on my door because some junky threw his used needles in my garbage.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918280)

That sucks, we have 9 bags no questions asked. 1st Monday of the month is heavy stuff.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918428)

That is just wrongful.

The whole point of trash collection is to keep it from accumulating so the next Black Death doesn't happen.

Sometimes I think politicians should be bludgeoned with history books until some of it starts to seep in.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918546)

I can't find the words to describe how much I agree with you.

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919142)

Jeez, garbage nazis! It's common here to sneak bricks and rubble into our 70L wheelie-bins. If the rubbish-collectors complain, we just say it's the little old lady next door, and if she can cope with the weight, why can't they?

Re:$5 a week? How much for a dead-wood version? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917874)

Access to the "electronic" version is included with the "dead wood" subscription price. RTA. It enlightening. The "35 subscribers" is kind of misleading. It's more like 90k subscribers when you include paper subscribers and the local cable company.

Abomination? (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917672)

In October, the web site relaunched and was redesigned. One of the principals behind the redesign is Mr. Mancini's replacement, editor Debby Krenek.

To say the least, the project has not been a newsroom favorite. "The view of the newsroom is the web site sucks," said one staffer.

"It's an abomination," said another.

W3C agrees [w3.org] .

Does anyone have a before and after screen shot? Honestly, the site [newsday.com] doesn't look half bad. Reduce/condense the amount of information you're throwing on the frontpage and you've got a good site. I don't even see an unnecessarily egregious use of Flash that mars so many news sites. It's a hell of a lot better than 75% of the news sites I come across (even Reuters has this annoying script that runs endlessly). I should note that with my bandwidth here it loaded pretty much instantly. I could see this taking forever on ma and pa's dialup.

Re:Abomination? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917802)

The information is lost in a colour heavy design, using what looks suspiciously like a stock template. How this cost $4million I'd love to know.

The design and funnel was conducted clearly by someone with no experience in subscription sites - getting someone to pull out their credit card is a lot harder than just blocking full access - the prejoin page is a mess, and it's not clear with a 5 second page read, let alone a glance, what the options are. If it takes 5 seconds you've lost most people.

What they need is a clean site, black on white, with a clear uncluttered explanatory presign page - heck a 'letter from the editor' is probably a good idea at this time - and considerably more visible information and _news_ on the front page.

I design and manage Adult paysites, but the principles are essentially the same - particularly the 5-second rule.

Re:Abomination? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918178)

I love how people toss around these huge million dollar figures as if the end-user experience was the primary driver of cost in these things. It's mostly backup, servers, and bandwidth.

Re:Abomination? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918482)

And why would a sudden drop in readership due to your paywall require extra backup,servers and bandwidth?

If anything, those costs should go DOWN and not up.

Re:Abomination? (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917948)

You should have seen it before they "settled" on the white background and made the text black-on-white... Seems the wayback machine found it too horrible to archive, but here's the "before" to the current redesign's "after": http://web.archive.org/web/20080513191349/http://www.newsday.com/ [archive.org] (Beware! stop loading after you can see it... some crazy scripts there) Anyway, I think a lot of people are feeling insulted by the all-lowercase format on a newspaper site.

Re:Abomination? (3, Insightful)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917990)

It's a terribly designed site. At first glance, you can't tell what are links, and what is just plain text. There are just about zero visual clues as to where you should go, what you should do, or what you should be reading. There seems to be no coherent logic to the layout, either, and the dark background with white text does them no favours. If they paid $4 million for this, they got ripped off.

Re:Abomination? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918394)

Given that the newspaper obviously didn't have the staff on hand to develop the new site, I wonder who they outsourced it to - that could explain a few things.

Re:Abomination? (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918010)

It's a hell of a lot better than 75% of the news sites I come across (even Reuters has this annoying script that runs endlessly). I should note that with my bandwidth here it loaded pretty much instantly. I could see this taking forever on ma and pa's dialup.

I guess the better question: even if it's in the top-25% of sites, would you pay for it?

Nobody is going to pay for news (3, Insightful)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917692)

Nobody is going to pay for a news site for the most part. You can easily get the same news elsewhere for free. The only places I've seen people pay for something like this is cable TV. The reason for that is because you had too to get all the major content.

The reason you can't do that with websites is that any old Joe can't create a TV station, but they can create a news website. If Newssite1.com makes you pay, everyone will go to Newssite2.com to get the same information free.

Re:Nobody is going to pay for news (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917950)

True, for the most part. If it has value to people they will pay for it. If it costs producers to write about news they have to charge somehow or they will go out of business.

Re:Nobody is going to pay for news (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918098)

Personally, I think we are about to enter an entirely new (and unfortunate) age, where newspapers adopt the same model that scientific journals adopt: demand payment from universities and large institutions, deny access to anyone not affiliated with such institutions. Most universities already pay for newspaper subscriptions and I doubt that the governing boards would see such a move as being anything other than "upgrading our newspaper subscriptions for the 21st century." Common people who are not in college would be relegated to getting their news from "independent" sources and blogs, which is not necessarily terrible in terms of accuracy, but there is an issue of extensiveness (most bloggers will not be able to get interviews or statements from top level politicians or businessmen).

Re:Nobody is going to pay for news (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918272)

I would pay the same rate as daily delivery for my local newspaper if they gave me a password to download a single PDF each day. The PDF must have the following features:

  • A good TOC
  • "continued on page n..." as links to page n
  • coupons as links to a printable coupons

I'll pay for the news (3, Interesting)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918634)

but not for opinions on an AP story.

Give me investigative journalism that is reasonably unbiased and you have a lifetime subscriber.

Give me right or left slanted takes on a WH press release or random blogger's "news story" and you're worse than useless to me.

Re:Nobody is going to pay for news (3, Insightful)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918720)

Nobody is going to pay for a news site for the most part. You can easily get the same news elsewhere for free.

And to continue this point, it's not just the "free" aspect, it's also the ability to go directly to the source for the information.

Back in the day, actually not too long ago, the news outlets (papers, radio, TV) served a purpose - they provided a conduit for information transfer. Folks had information (big game scores, courtroom shenanignas, weather forecasts) and needed a way to convey that information to other folks. Similarly, the "end users" desired the information, but didn't have a way to get it directly. The news media connected the two groups, and served a valuable purpose.

Enter the Intarweb. Suddenly, the end user is directly connected to the information source. The news media middlemen are left holding their hats, scrambling for significance.

Probably the worst thing that has happened to the media outlets is transparency. When you have the web at yor fingertips, it's particularly easy to notice that the vast majority of news outlets are simply re-branding the AP or Reuters news feeds. Their collective credibility is shot to hell. They've been branded as "middle men" and not as information sources. The web allows you to go directly to the source. Why would I tolerate some reporter's re-hash of a story when I can interpret the source for myself? Case and point - I can get weather information directly from the National Weather Service [noaa.gov] rather than getting the dumbed-down version spewed by the local TV station or newspaper. They don't add value (actually they remove it) so I bypass them ... because I can.

strange numbers (2, Interesting)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917700)

5$/week * 35 subscribers * 15 weeks = 9000$ ??

Re:strange numbers (2, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918014)

Math illiteracy affects 8 out of every 5 people.

Re:strange numbers (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918158)

I would guess that advertising dollars were factored in (did you think they would remove advertising just because you are paying them?).

Re:strange numbers (1)

elysiana (1152995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918306)

I *think* they're saying that number is based on one year - they mentioned something about it being "$5 a week, or $260 a year" so they may be assuming these people will go the whole year - or perhaps they have already paid for the full year.

5$/week * 35 subscribers * 52 weeks DOES equal ~9000$

Re:strange numbers (1)

Physics Dude (549061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918494)

5$/week * 35 subscribers * 15 weeks = 9000$ ??

I'm guessing they're quoting 'yearly' figures: 35 * $5/wk * 52weeks = $9100

35. Ice burn. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917702)

Getting 35 subscribers is like getting a one penny tip.

Left in the customer's half-empty drink.

For the record, (5, Insightful)

aengblom (123492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917722)

For the record, they sell access to the web site for $5 per week, while they sell the paper for $4.50 including access to the web site. Basically those 35 subscribers are paying 50 cents per day to not get the paper delivered. They also give free access to all people who subscribe to the local cable provider -- which is a lot of people for the local paper.

Plus it's Newsday.....

Re:For the record, (3, Funny)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918034)

For the record, they sell access to the web site for $5 per week, while they sell the paper for $4.50 including access to the web site. Basically those 35 subscribers are paying 50 cents per day to not get the paper delivered. They also give free access to all people who subscribe to the local cable provider -- which is a lot of people for the local paper.

Plus it's Newsday.....

Likely, those 35 people are not on Long Island and can't get it delivered. I guess the $0.50 is the online delivery charge... all those tubes and all...

Re:For the record, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918350)

Just because it's understandable because it's stupid, doesn't make it not stupid.

e4? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917734)

not going home Lead to '3Leaner

You just don't understand business (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917740)

35 customers paying $5 a week? Why, that's going to make a profit in 439 years! It's long term investing, people!

Re:You just don't understand business (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917816)

Redesigning the web site costed 4 millions of USD. The real profit is done redesigning web sites for newspapers...who is the next one ?!?

Not as bad as it sounds (5, Interesting)

cain (14472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917760)

If you read the article (I know, I know) you'll discover that 75% of the people in the region already have access to the site via package deals:

"Of course, there are a few caveats. Anyone who has a newspaper subscription is allowed free access; anyone who has Optimum Cable, which is owned by the Dolans and Cablevision, also gets it free. Newsday representatives claim that 75 percent of Long Island either has a subscription or Optimum Cable."

So it's actually surprising that 35 people did sign up for it. I'm guessing they are people that moved from Long Island to other places and, for whatever reason, miss reading Newsday. I know it's popular to scream that newspapers are dying, but this is not really a story that supports that supposition.

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (2, Insightful)

vslashg (209560) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917922)

If you read the article (I know, I know) you'll discover that 75% of the people in the region already have access to the site via package deals. So it's actually surprising that 35 people did sign up for it.

So the potential regional market is only 1/4 the size that it otherwise might have been? Think, without these other access deals, they might have gotten 140 people to sign up.

Your investors called.. (1)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917786)

"That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been." So you expected the project to fail outright from the start.

Re:Your investors called.. (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918060)

"It's this sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need in these trying times of crisis and universal broo-ha-ha" - Tom Lehrer

Oh Pay Me Baby One More Time! (1)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917800)

Face it, with Newsday, NY Times going to the pay to read model and with the rest of News Corp papers doing the same I think this is the direction the rest of the industry is headed. Though I believe a simpler way to pay would be to have an aggregator like Google charge us for the news and distribute the revenues to the individual content providers whenever I click on the feeds. At the same time, if I prefer to go freebie, I would get the same (but lower quality?) news from one of the other sources all grouped under the same subject.

Newsday isn't the New York Times (1)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917822)

You can't extrapolate this to the NYT. Newsday doesn't have the same journalistic creds as the New York Times. A comparison with the Wall Street Journal would be more apt.

Double the cred... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918474)

Double the viewership!

Woowho!! 70 subscribers!

-Rick

This just in... (3, Interesting)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917828)

newspapers are dead....

People who have their local paper delivered to their door every morning by a real life 'person' tend to pay $5 or less a week so why is the online site so expensive?..

Surprising? (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917878)

If Newsday is one of the only for-pay newspapers online and higher profile newspapers like NY Times are still giving their news away for free, is it any surprise that there aren't many subscribers to the for-pay paper? From the sound of it, their pricing scheme was also way too expensive. Five bucks a week? Sounds like they're pricing it as if they still have to send it to the printing presses. Drop the price to 10 bucks a month - max, and maybe make a tiered pricing model, giving away some stuff for free. Otherwise, why would I even visit the site and how would I know it's worth the price of admission?

Maybe a pay-as-you-go system where you pay a micro payment per article will also be viable in the future.

Not Worth The Effort (3, Informative)

Dr. Noooo (90976) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917904)

Newsday used to be an award winning newspaper. In the 80's there was a very good New York City edition (New York Newsday). They had some truly great writers. The paper actually reported news in the journalistic tradition. Currently, it is owned by Cablevision (following nearly going under thanks in no small part to a circulation/advertising scandal), the size of it's print edition has been shrunk to near comic book size, and while there are still some very talented people writing for the paper, the tone of the paper has really swung to the hard right (as opposed to being somewhat objective). Why anyone would pay for the print edition is beyond me, so I don't know what made them think anyone would pony up for the electronic version. And unless I'm mistaken, current subscribers to "Optimum Online" (Cablevision's Internet offering) can view the Newsday website gratis.

Article glosses over an important fact (1)

itzfritz (822208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917924)

It's important to note that Newsday.com is provided free of charge to Newsday print customers as well as customers of Cablevision's Optimum Online internet service - which (according to statistics in TFA) accounts for over 75% of Newsday's demographic: Long Island residents. Most everyone I know uses Cablevision's internet (it's a local company), it's the cheapest and fastest. They've been laying fiber all over Long Island for *years*. The poster did not include this important fact, which pretty much explains the low number of subscriptions as well as the quote: "That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been,'"

Re:Article glosses over an important fact (2, Insightful)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918048)

All well and good, but if they are spending $9mil on a website that is only going to be accessible to people who are ALREADY paying for their articles via the printed paper....what's the point? They just spent $9mil to allow their current readers to read the same articles online as well. Excellent business model. They were obviously expecting to make revenue from the paywall, but instead they are proving that the paywall model does not work well. Granted a paper with a larger circulation would have more paywall subscribers by default, but if the percentages remained similar it would still not be worth the investment. It will be interesting to see how larger news sites respond to this.

Re:Article glosses over an important fact (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30919022)

All well and good, but if they are spending $9mil on a website that is only going to be accessible to people who are ALREADY paying for their articles via the printed paper....what's the point?

Oh I don't know, something crazy like attempting to increase the value of their service to their customers (by this I mean the attempt to redesign their website, not specifically the paywall). But who cares about things like improving your product these days?

They just spent $9mil to allow their current readers to read the same articles online as well. Excellent business model.

FYI the "fine" summary stated $4 million, not $9 million. Yet what's 5 million dollars between friends, right pal? Anyway, even if the redesigned website allows them to better retain their current customers or add new ones (for the actual print addition or for the parent company's other subscription services) it can be worth it in the long run. IMHO the only totally boneheaded part of their change was implementing the paywall.

They were obviously expecting to make revenue from the paywall, but instead they are proving that the paywall model does not work well. Granted a paper with a larger circulation would have more paywall subscribers by default, but if the percentages remained similar it would still not be worth the investment. It will be interesting to see how larger news sites respond to this.

Now this part I agree with. They apparently thought that a significant portion of the people that use their website but aren't their local customers, or subscribers to Cablevision, would bother with the paywall. However, unless they only had 100 or so non-subscriber visitors (possible but unlikely), it hasn't panned-out that way. So it will be interesting to see what lessons, if any the "big guys" take away from this episode.

$5 a week is crazy. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917936)

If they charged a reasonable price, they would get a lot more customers. $1 a week.

$5 a week approaches the cost of a new dish network account with 130 channels.

Re:$5 a week is crazy. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918166)

Not to mention its at least 5x the price of a print subscription...... Now granted you get access to past archives, but really, how many people actually need an in-depth contemporary expose on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Re:$5 a week is crazy. (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918332)

I know a site that charges $5/month [fark.com] for premium access to all of its 2,000+ feeds that it has each day. $5/week for access to the stories on one site seems to be a rip-off by comparison.

I wonder how much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917968)

How much did they spend to erect and maintain the paywall I wonder? I'm guessing it was pricier to keep people "out" than to just leave it as it was.

Newpapers Have to Deliver Quality (5, Interesting)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30917994)

As others have mentioned, the Wall Street Journal makes money even requiring people to pay for online access. So does the Economist. I think the real issue here is the quality of the content.

Read a regular newpaper story in an area where you're an expert. Notice how sloppy they are? How careless with the facts? People have complained about this for ages, but there wasn't much you could do about it. Most communities only had one or two papers to choose from.

Today, though, there's a huge market in online news, and, for the most part, the market seems to have set the price at "free." (That's free as in beer, of course.) It is difficult for me to believe that the market has got the price wrong. (Again, with a few exceptions.)

--Greg

Re:Newpapers Have to Deliver Quality (1)

bfr99 (1729262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918440)

I would be interested in seeing what percentage of WSJ and Economist subscriptions are corporate vs individual. I suspect the number is quite high and is just another example of the much loved cost shifting technique where others pay while management reaps.

Re:Newpapers Have to Deliver Quality (2, Interesting)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918444)

The Economist doesn't anymore - I'm a subscriber, but I haven't bothered to tell the website that because it doesn't seem to matter. Except recently they've been putting little popup "Become a Subscriber" ads, so I might register just to make those go away.

I don't know anything about Newsday, but I do think there may be a niche for ultra local newspapers; they can give stuff that the big news sources can't - parades, school sports, local government issues, zoning etc. For an example see http://gazette.net/ [gazette.net] - they break MD down to the community level, and still seem to be doing ok.

Worst businessman ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30917996)

Can we put this Jimenez guy up for worst businessman ever? So they underwent a reform that cost FOUR MILLION DOLLARS, and they got 35 subscribers which was 35 more than they expected. So they spent $4 million in anticipation of 0 customers? Huh?

I'd pay .... only if there were no free sites (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918016)

.. but since there are (and the "quality" of news reports is equally low on all of them), then there's really no reason.

Before making a website pay-only, the producer really has to ask: what's the market?, not "what's this service worth? So long as the rest of the market requires no payment, there's not a hope in hell of getting any significant customer base. The only chance you might, possibly, have is to somehow change the market you're in. Going from a news service - of which there are many: all the same, to an analysis or insider site might just do it, but I doubt that many people would recognise the distinction.

As it is, this site has got one very valuable asset that few other websites have: a list of people willing to pay good money for something that everyone else gets for free. That's gotta be worth a fortune.

Whaaaaat? (2, Insightful)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918050)

Still publisher Terry Jimenez is unapologetic.

I submit that publisher Terry Jimenez has less business saavy than a 10-pound bag of fertilizer.

ad revenue is real and genuine (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918112)

for newspapers and will always exist

it will be a lot smaller, yes. and some superstar reporters will spin off from newspapers and become their own internet reporting gateways (see nikki finke: http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/ [deadline.com] )

in this way the internet will "atomize" some newspaper reporting where the departments/ individual reporters will report directly to readers, unrelated to any particular newspaper, much like musicians don't need distributors anymore

but despite all the doom and gloom about newspapers and their fate, nothing on the internet can ever or will ever replace the service, for example, the poughkeepsie journal delivers for the residents of poughkeepsie, new york ( http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/ [poughkeepsiejournal.com] ). newspapers are reduced in prominence, income, and scope, yes. they are however, still indispensable and will always be important, especially in niche geographic areas, like poughkeepsie new york, where no one else can compete with them

if i were the new york times, i'd think about spinning off my state, international, and national bureaus into content gateways commensurate with their current importance and prominence, then i would focus on my city room and go head to head with the new york daily news, the current king of local city content (fuck the new york post and murdoch). but new york city is such a huge market, 3 daily local content bureaus will still do ok business

meanwhile, newsday is long island new york. this is still important and will always be important as a geographic niche. newsday is diminished, but secure

They want how much? (5, Insightful)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918140)

$260 a year for access to a B-list newspaper site? Really? The Wall Street Journal online only is $110/year ant they're The Wall Street Journal.

Good luck.

35 x $5 x ?weeks = $9000? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918198)

Doesn't add up. There have been only ~14 weeks since "late October" (~$2450), but the math implies a year (almost 52 weeks). Are they already hoping their 35 subscribers stay for a year, so that it's actually a projected annual revenue of $9000/yr?

Colossal waste of money or charity? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918402)

Newsday's web site redesign and relaunch reportedly cost about $4 million and the 35 people who've signed up have earned Newsday about $9,000. Still publisher Terry Jimenez is unapologetic. 'That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been,' said Jimenez to his assembled staff

So you expected to be out $4M, but instead you're out $3.991M? Was the point of this exercise to keep the "assembled staff" on board and well-paid through these lean years? If so, incredible charity work. It might have done more help elsewhere, but we can always say that about any charity, so there's no point quibbling.

Re:Colossal waste of money or charity? (1)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918568)

Yeah, that confuses me too. He thought no-one would subscribe? So why did he do it exactly?

Kudos for Eating Their Own Dog Food (2, Funny)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918424)

I think we should congratulate the 35 members of the Newsday staff who ponied up $5/week to subscribe to their own web site.

What's the solution? (3, Interesting)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918640)

It's obvious that the current situation is fragile and the media is changing, but what's the solution?

To recap:

  • Demand for online is on the rise and for print is declining
  • People don't want to pay
  • People don't want to see ads

So how can the newspapers provide content and pay for the bills?

It's easy to dismiss the media as being obsolete and that you can find the information for free anyway, but let's consider something: almost all bloggers and "new media" hipsters get the info from the old media anyway. There's precious little actual content created by bloggers and enthusiasts and it's very difficult to do so.

Case in point, I researched for weeks on info about the software used in the making of Avatar [twin-pixels.com] and some technical details [twin-pixels.com] . I got the info by finding the companies involved via IMDB, talking to people involved and basically scrapping bits and pieces into a coherent article. Then Cinefex magazine [cinefex.com] came out with so much more information, all my work looks ridiculous.

explain this fuzzy math to me please (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918680)

how exactly does $5 a week for three months from 35 people equal $9000?

by my calculations, that's $2100 total.

why are they charging more than cover price for their crap website?

Re:explain this fuzzy math to me please (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918776)

I figured they committed to a year (35 * 5 * 52 = 9100). But it's the 5 * 52 that gets me. 35 people REALLY love Newsday, bless their hearts.

$260 a year! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30918718)

$5 a week is way more than I've ever paid for a real newspaper printed on dead trees. How much do they charge for a year's subscription to the printed edition? $1,000? No wonder they only have 35 subscribers.

God forbid (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918780)

God forbid, a newspaper wanting to actually charge for the content it makes.

For giggles, mostly (2, Interesting)

Stick_Fig (740331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30918966)

I just subscribed to Newsday.com. I'm Customer36. That's my username. I'm going to be blogging about my adventures with one of the worst ideas for a paywall ever.

Fun fact: Newsday doesn't ask for your credit card when you subscribe. They call you later. Must not have anticipated much demand.

http://shortformblog.com/biz/our-adventures-as-newsday-customer-no-36-the-subscription [shortformblog.com]

I would only pay for the NY Times (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919068)

Its the online paper I read the most due to the wealth of primary material. It sounds like I'll get my opportunity in 2011 when it goes paywall. They will allow 10 free clicks a month, then start charging. I'm only willing to pay $5 a month, but I fear they will charge much more.

Subscriber Demographics (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30919180)

Mr. and Mrs. Jimenez....
That was 2.
Then Mr. Jimenez speaks at the staff meeting "We need to cut our payroll. By the way, who wants to be a team player and get an online subscription?"

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