Accessing full Newsday articles online costs $5 per week if you don't subscribe to the print edition or Optimum Online. When Newsday columnist Saul Friedman found out he quit. After 13 years of writing for the paper, Friedman says many of his readers will no longer be able to read his column and so he'd rather blog elsewhere.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Newsday told us that 75 percent of Long Islanders subscribe to Optimum Online or Newsday’s print edition and so have open access to their entire website. But there’s one person who most certainly does not. His name is Saul Friedman, and for 13 years he’s written a column for Newsday called Gray Matters, about and for older people. But, he lives in Maryland, doesn't subscribe to the print edition or Optimum Online and just isn't willing to pay five dollars a week for access to the website. He says many of his readers across the country would be in the same boat, so he quit. He now blogs at a website called Time Goes By. Saul, welcome to the show.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Thank you very much.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So with all these layoffs in the media industry, wage reductions, furloughs, you just get up and quit. Are you nuts?
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Yes, I, I suppose I am.
[BROOKE LAUGHS] I'm sort of contrary, but that’s the why I've been for 50 years in journalism.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You were a columnist in the pre-Internet days when readers had to pay a couple of bucks to read your column. Why are you so upset?
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Well, even in those earlier days, if the column was worth it, it would get out in the syndicate and so you could get some wider circulation. As a result, you'd get some feedback from people all over the country, which is what any good columnist would want, because we're in the business of communicating, and communication is at least two ways.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So now you’re blogging at a website called Time Goes By.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I assume you’re making a whole lot less money than you did at Newsday.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Well, [LAUGHS] a whole lot less, yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How much?
SAUL FRIEDMAN: It’s – none!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] But what do you think the solution is? Every journalist can't make the sacrifice that you’re making, nor can news outlets continue to lose money at the rate that they're losing money.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Well, I happen to believe, Brooke, that the best of the newspapers will make it through this recession and come out whole, you know, I just don't think that we ought to be afraid of the online. A long time ago, when television came into the country, newspapers refused to carry the television schedules because they were so afraid of television.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Saul, you said you've been working in journalism for 50 years?
SAUL FRIEDMAN: More. I'm 80.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So you've seen a lot of changes in the business.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: I have, and I've seen a lot of people decrying for the future of newspapers.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Are you not in a panic, being able to see through the long end of that telescope all the way back?
SAUL FRIEDMAN: I am not in a panic because I can see all the way back. Brooke, newspapers, as well as the online, will continue, but I don't see how newspapers are going to help much their bottom line if they charge money. You know, people will go elsewhere.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Saul, thank you very much.
SAUL FRIEDMAN: Ah, a pleasure.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Saul Friedman blogs on a website called Time Goes By.