Cablevision’s Newsday folly, news sites opportunity

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newspaper_small.jpgADOTAS — Of all the newspapers in all the world that are thinking about going behind a paywall, why oh why does it have to be Newsday?

The paper that covers Long Island, the eastern end of New York, has won pultizers, investigative awards and had a hardy group of reporters that spanned the globe. No more. Aside of winning a recent, well-deserved award, the newspaper has been gutted and the publishers, the Dolan family, have clashed with editors over editorial control. It’s my hometown paper, and I barely read it.

The cable company says it plans to charge online readers, a move that would make it one of the first large U.S. papers to reverse a trend toward free Web readership. The newspaper said it is transforming the site into a locally focused cable service.

At AllThingsDigital, Peter Kafka says that the value may be its ads, particularly its classifieds, which the company wants to sell in packages with TV advertising. It is integrating the paper’s auto ads with interactive ads it runs on its cable networks in a way that is much better and more engaging than Craigslist.

But I think this is an opportunity for online news sites on Long Island as well as any ad networks that can rope them in. Newsday has had a stranglehold on Long Island, but put news behind a paywall and you cut readership. Those people want news and will go fishing around for it. Someone who can aggregate sites and/or seed sites could capture the local ads that will flee because it will cost way too much to advertise on cablevision’s ‘new’ newspaper and find the readers that they want.

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