Long Island paper proves pay walls for local papers don’t work

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Newsday Pay Wall

Newspapers aren’t faring too well. We all know that. The options lately seem to be close the paper, hope ebook readers and/or the Apple Tablet can save the industry, or establish a pay wall. There are problems with all three, though now we have proof that pay walls don’t always work. The proof comes from the Newsday, the Long Island local paper.

In October, Newsday instituted a pay wall of $5 a week, which would add up to $260 a year. Since putting up the pay wall, the paper has seen only 35 people willing to pay the cost to read the local paper. That number seems small, and it is, though it is worth noting that there are other ways to get to the content. Those who have a subscription to the paper (have it delivered to their houses), and those who have cable through Cablevision, the company that owns Newsday, can access the content for free. Those 35 subscribers, therefore, are those who live outside the area or who subscribe to Verizon FiOS and don’t get the paper. About 75 percent of those on Long Island have are able to get free access that way.

The problem could also have to do with the quality of the paper. Local papers aren’t always known for being high quality, and the current incarnation of Newsday is no exception. It lost a lot of features when it was bought by Cablevision, which has upset readers and writers. Also, the website is not exactly a joy to navigate or look at. With the New York Times being the closest regional paper, there is really no comparison. It actually makes the fact that the paper was able to convince so many people to pay to access the content.

Read [The New York Observer]

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