Newsday’s pay wall: From bad to worse

By Steve Outing

What’s wrong with this webpage I encountered the other day?

Subscribe or subscribe?

Besides the lack of wisdom of a general-interest newspaper (Newsday) putting a pay wall on its website for non-unique content (my opinion, shared by many other media experts), the worse part is that Newsday.com is leaving money behind. Double-dumb.

Here’s my experience:

  1. I saw a Twitter post linking to this article; clicked through.
  2. Got to Newsday.com teaser page with intro to story and a link to “VIDEO: See the Droid in action.”
  3. Video seemed interesting, so I clicked.
  4. Got to the page above, which gave me ONLY the options of subscribing (to the newspaper; to Optimum Online, a NY cable service; or to Newsday.com for $5 a week) in order to access the video.

Since I live in Colorado, I of course have no interest in any of those options. But if I could have paid 25 cents, or may 50, I might have done so to watch the video. Newsday.com ignores money from non-local online users who might be willing to pay a one-off fee.

In practice, I and most savvy online users probably would have clicked and searched a bit more to find a similar video about the new Droid phone elsewhere for free. But some percentage of people in my position would have paid rather than go through the hassle of searching elsewhere if there was a one-off payment option available. So Newsday.com leaves money on the table.

I believe that the kind of web pay-wall strategy that Newsday.com is deploying is certain to fail. It’s been done before by other newspaper websites in years past and it’s failed. But if the company is determined to lock down its news content, the least it could do is offer more options for viewing specific content.

Sometimes you just have to marvel at the inability of newspapers to grasp web publishing. Wow.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!