Thursday Noon Update 10/22/09

NEWSDAY PAYWALL: After next week, you’ll have to pay to access what is arguably one of the worst major newspaper Web sites in America.

Newsday, the wannabe big-city daily, will demand $5 a week from anyone without a subscription to the newspaper or its online cable service. A small amount of material — classifieds, obits, weather and entertainment lists, along with a news-neutered homepage — will remain free. [Business Wire Press Release]

Ed’s view: Newsday says about 75 percent of Long Island homes are subscribers to Newsday or its online cable service or both — although the number of people subscribing to Newsday is presumably in a free-fall. The newspaper is a shadow of its once fearsome self and is a case study of the collapse of a seemingly invincible business long before the industry’s overall decline. I’ll have more to say about this in a future post.

Meanwhile, Newsday’s New York City Website — AMNY.com, which is a thin shadow of the Newsday site — will presumably remain free (AM New York is a free newspaper), although no mention was made of this in today’s press release.

ADS EVERYWHERE: Here’s Apple’s patent application for integrating ads into a computer’s operating system. [Mac Rumors]

AGGREGATOR’S PEACE BID: Britain’s NewsNow is asking publishers to chill.

We have had enough of indiscriminate attacks. To vilify all aggregators as ‘cheap worthless technological news solutions’ and ‘content kleptomaniacs’ is just empty rhetoric. Not only is that misleading — it is misguided … We don’t do anything that detracts from the value of your content.

PAY TO PLAY: Ericsson has introduced a payment system so its mobile customers in Europe can get past newspaper paywalls. Revenue will be shared with publishers. [Fierce Wireless]

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NO TO GOVERNMENT AID: Seth Lipsky, whose NY Sun was an extraordinary new entry in the newspaper market that lasted several years before succumbing to economic reality last fall, says he would not have wanted to rely on government aid to keep his daily afloat. [Wall Street Journal]

One thing that kept me going was the prospect that at least some of our competitors, who were also losing money, might crack before we did. The notion that any of them might be sustained by government subsidies strikes me as profoundly contrary to a free press. In the event, the Sun folded without government help.

I take no comfort from the analogy the authors of [this week’s Columbia University report that suggests government subsidies] draw with government funding for the arts. In New York City, there came a time when the leaders the voters entrusted with their tax money concluded that what was being done with it in the arts was so abhorrent they tried to stop it. This happened in 1999, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani confronted the Brooklyn Museum over its display of a depiction of the Madonna that had been splattered with elephant dung. A federal court wouldn’t let the city stop funding the museum.

What would happen today if some modern-day version of Jay Near’s “Saturday Press,” an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, racist newspaper issued during the 1920s, were to look for innovative funding by one of these state councils today? Minnesota tried back then to suppress Near’s paper as a nuisance. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Near v. Minnesota (1931), protected his freedom from prior restraint. It’s one thing for the Supreme Court to say a Jay Near can’t be stopped in advance from publishing on his own dime. It would be another to use state power to force the rest of us to pay for it whether we want to or not.

Lipsky concluded, “I’ve come to the view that the real protection of press freedom is in the idea of private property.” He buttressed his view with this story from the Russian revolution:

Press freedom in Soviet Russia was lost precisely on this issue when, as American journalist John Reed told the story in his famous book, ‘Ten Days that Shook the World,’ a proposal was put on the table to restore the press freedom that had been suspended on the first day of the Bolshevik revolution. Lenin shouted it down with a diatribe about how that would mean restoring to capitalists privately owned printing equipment, paper supplies and ink.”

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OOPS: MNBC anchor Contessa Brewer introduces Jesse Jackson as Al Sharpton. What would the media have said if this happened on Fox?  Video introduced — and mocked — by Fox:

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2 responses to “Thursday Noon Update 10/22/09

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Evening Edition 10/22/09 « Coney Media

  2. Pingback: Fish wrapper | Coney Media

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