On the same day that the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado's oldest newspaper, announced
that it would fold after Friday's edition, Newsday announced that plans to begin charging for access to its online content.
The newspaper industry is facing major problems, with the aforementioned Rocky Mountain News, and even the storied San Francisco Chronicle, which this week announced it was near bankruptcy. As such, an attempt to monetize online content shouldn't a big surprise.
It is, however, a major change in an industry which offers most online news content for free.
Tom Rutledge, the chief operating officer of Cablevision, made the announcement
during a conference call with analysts.
"When we purchased Newsday we were aware of the long-term issues facing the traditional newspaper industry. Our goal was, and is, to use our electronic network assets and subscriber relationships to transform the way news is distributed.
"We plan to end distribution of free Web content and to make our news gathering capabilities service our customers."
Cablevision purchased based Newsday from the Tribune Co. for $650 million last year. Cablevision had to write down Newsday's value by $402 million on Thursday, which pushed its fourth-quarter results to a loss.
In a statement, Newsday publisher Timothy Knight said:
"We are in the process of transforming Newsday's Web site into an enhanced, locally focused cable service that we believe will become an important benefit for Newsday and Cablevision customers. More particulars will be forthcoming over the next few months."
Based on that, we have a few months of free Newsday content left. But as newspapers continue to sink into seeming irrelevancy, is this the wave of the future? Perhaps, if they and other news media are to survive in an age of seemingly unlimited free news content on the Internet, it is.