As newspapers in the Bay Area consider putting their stories behind pay walls, they might consider the experience of Newsday on Long Island. According to the New York Observer, after three months, only 35 people signed up to pay $5 a week for access to all of Newsday’s stories.
Newsday’s Web site redesign cost $4 million. The 35 subscribers will provide $9,000 in revenue over a year’s time. The paper’s free Web site is losing readers and advertisers now that content is being withheld.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, the Chronicle is withholding columnists such as Matier & Ross from its free SFGate site, but making them available to e-edition subscribers. Certain stories are also being treated the same way.
MediaNews Group, owner of the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, plans this year to experiment with a pay wall at its papers in Chico and York, Pa.