Newsday Columnist Takes A Stand Against Paid Content

3814467826.jpgWe’ve known since February that was going to be put behind a paywall so its parent company Cablevision could see if any of that Wall Street Journal magic could rub off on them and actually get users to pay for online content. Two weeks ago, the company announced its payment plan: $5 a week for full access to their online edition, unless you were already a subscriber to the Long Island paper or its parent company’s Optimum Internet service. And considering that Newsday‘s most recent circ numbers have fallen 5.4 percent, Cablevision can use all the extra cash from the publication it acquired last year that it can get.

But not all writers agree: Saul Friedman, a columnist at Newsday for over a decade, quit the paper last week in protest of the publication’s paywall, which went into effect last week. Friedman’s column in the paper, “Gray Matters,” dealt with the topic of aging, ironically something that print journalism can’t seem to find a way to do gracefully as more and more consumers turn to the Internet for free content.

Friedman’s full memo about his reasons for leaving, posted on Romenesko, after the jump.

Your readers may wish to know this: After 13 years of writing “Gray Matters” for Newsday and the McClatchy Trib service, and more than 50 years in newspaper journalism, (for Knight-Ridder and Newsday), I have severed relations with Newsday and will write for Ronni Bennett’s Time Goes By.

I will write the weekly Gray Matters as well as a twice monthly essay, “Reflections.”

The main reason: The new owners of Newsday, Cablevision, have shut off access to its web site, even to me. It is available only to Newsday subscribers or to subscribers to Cablevision’s ISP. Thus I cannot send my columns to people who don’t subscribe to Newsday. And if it is picked up by Google or Yahoo, it would not be accessible.

Previously: Newsday Revamps Web Site

(Picture via Newsday)