Remember when you were a kid? There you were, with a bunch of your friends, standing in front of an old abandoned house. The one you thought was haunted? And everyone said they wanted to go in, but nobody wanted to go first? And, after several “I dare yous” and “we’ll be right behind yous” you finally gather enough gumption to go in. So you take a deep breath, walk in and, in a moment of absolute fear, turn around to look at your friends, only to find they’re still outside?

Well, Newsday is taking the “triple-dog dare” of the pay-for-content debate by announcing they plan to begin charging for its news content on the web site. In essence, it’s going to go to its parent company’s cable television roots to develop an on-demand paid news site. With Newsday taking the step forward, we’re finally going to see if people are indeed willing to pay for news content on the web.

Or will we? Newsday’s gamble is grand, but can one newspaper in a highly competitive market pull this off? Will the New York Times and Daily News … as well as the other suburban and community news sites … follow Newsday into the unknown, or will they sit outside and reap the benefits of Newsday readers deciding to get their news from somewhere else?

I give Newsday credit for trying to do something. But the plan still underestimates the loyalty of readers … or, as we may likely see, the lack of loyalty. As long as they can get content from SOMEWHERE for free, they will likely gravitate towards that.

Again, instead of forcing charges on readers, why not give them products (packaging and distribution of your content) that they would be willing to pay for?

* My heart goes out to the editorial employees of the Rocky Mountain News, which ceased publication Friday. Ironically, word of the newspaper’s demise was first broadcast through Twitter before it was picked up by the mainstreet media.

And, again through Twitter, we were able to see the thoughts and emotions of the newsroom as they produced the final edition. I noticed that the story played closely to the plot of the movie “Deadline U.S.A.” — a movie made more than 50 years ago.

Both examples say loads about the dynamic shift in information dissemination. If only newspaper owners would take notice.


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