Cablevision’s War on Newsday

We knew the newspaper business was tough, but holy cow; newsday03042010.pngtoday’s Long Island Press article on Newsday makes The Wire, Season Five look like All the President’s Men. Then again, what else can one expect from a story titled, “How Cablevision Is Destroying Newsday.”

Although many parent companies are having trouble with their print media arms, Cablevision appears borderline hostile. The long and winding tale begins in 2008, when Cablevision bought Newsday from media titan Sam Zell (he of Tribune Co.). It continues with the hallmarks of a troubled paper: labor disputes, eyebrow-raising consultancy hires, and a crisis of identity born of conflicts of interest. In addition to providing a detailed recap of the dysfunction, the piece offers some hot-fire color quotes from a former Newsday staffer and several other figures.

Among our favorites is former Newsday editor Jaci Clement:

“So, while yes, they do put out, what is a newspaper, and they can provide some value, at the end of the day, you’re not talking about an organization that’s devoted to serving the public anymore. You’re talking about an organization that is doing what it’s got to do to protect its business.”

Then there’s journalism professor Jeffrey Rosen on Newsday‘s decision to put its Web site behind a pay wall.

Rosen calls the move “cynical,” and Cablevision “would-be monopolists.” As he puts it, “[Cablevision doesn’t] care about journalistic excellence, from what I can see, so it’s not like they’re building a strong editorial culture. They’re just trying to create these monopolies and make it impossible to live on Long Island without doing business with Cablevision.”

There’s much, much more.