Friday, September 24, 2010

761 Newsday

761 Newsday

Those of us who lived long on Long Island would love to read the local paper there, Newsday, now and then. But the new owners have made it close to impossible. They're either pioneers or they are putting a once-great paper into the ground. Yes, it once was a great paper. Major columnists, major reporting, major investigating. Huge pageloads of ads, sports, a first rate Washington bureau. And circulation? Until some crooks on the business side started fudging the figures and dumping copies into the landfill they were going great guns, serving a region of more than five million people and among the largest papers in the country.

We all know that times have changed in the newspaper business. They have to get their bucks when and where and as they can. But this is ridiculous: If you want to read Newsday on the internet, you have to be a subscriber to the company's cable service, Cablevision or a subscriber to the print paper itself. Otherwise, it costs five bucks a week. $260 a year.

Cablevision serves a lot of locations all over the country. But not all of them. No kid on a bicycle is going to make a 12 hour round trip to plunk a Newsday on your porch in Harrisburg or Rochester or even Union County, NJ. (Heaven forbid you should be a Long Islander living in Florida or Arizona.)

So they give you headlines and the first paragraph of a story. And this paper has never been known for the tell-all headline or gisting in the lead paragraph.

Five bucks a week for the full paper on line? Nuts!

But here's the real rub. If once you were a subscriber, they send you headlines via e-mail, and ads. You don't need to pay to read the ads. Shocker, eh? So the campaign is on. Every time they send an ad, we write a standard letter to the advertiser (not the paper itself) saying "please tell your Newsday ad rep that we ex-patriots who neither get the paper delivered nor are able to subscribe to their ever-more-costly cable service will actively tell our remaining LI friends and relatives to boycott you -- and when we come back for a visit, count on us not using whatever it is you're selling." If enough people do this, Newsday might lower the internet price to something reasonable.


--The local mail is getting more screwed up every day. In the latest, we didn't receive yet another bill, and a month later when a later one arrived, we got slapped with about 40 bucks in interest and late fees. The merchant (GAP) immediately and without fanfare removed the extra charges, which is the exception, rather than the rule.

--When the wireless companies pitch you for "new improved" service they don't disclose all the terms. So you have to call them and interrogate. And after a call of that length (and the accompanying wait of that length before someone comes on the line) you end up doing nothing because you're more confused than you were in the first place.

--Looking around for vacation air fares. No planes go from any "A" to any "B" that means anything at all directly from anywhere. Thanks for this "hub and spoke" "system" probably should go to Bob Crandall, former AMR chief and the "Chainsaw Al" of the airline industry.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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