Columnist quits in protest after readers are forced to pay for his columns

Saul Friedman has written a column for the Long Island, N.Y. daily newspaper, Newsday, since 1996. But recently, his weekly column on aging, "Gray Matters," became restricted behind a paid subscriber wall. As a result ,Friedman, who is the winner of journalism's prestigious Nieman Fellowship and who roused enough rabble to land on a list of Nixon political opponents, quit in protest.

Friedman's reaction may well be justified. Only subscribers to Newsday, which is sold in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and in New York City, can now read his full column online. In fact, Friedman, who lives near Washington, D.C. and isn't in the Newsday circulation area, can't even read his own columns online now. Customers of Cablevision, the company that owns Newsday, can also access Newsday online free of charge, but the rest of the world outside New York City's five buroughs and Long Island, has to pay $5 a week for the privilege.
On Jim Romenesko's media blog on Poynter Online, Friedman announced that he "severed relations with Newsday and will write for Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By," a blog about aging. "The new owners of Newsday, Cablevision, have shut off access to its web site, even to me," he wrote. Friedman complained that he no longer would be able to send his columns to readers outside the subscription area, nor would the columns be accessible through popular online news search services, such as Google News and Yahoo!.

After a 50-plus-year career in newspaper, including several years as a staff writer for Newsday in its Washington bureau, Friedman will now be available only on a Typepad blog.

It's ironic -- and, for newspapers, devastating -- that a writer targeted at an elderly demographic, long thought to be the last loyal newspaper audience, would be leaving newspapers behind for blogs. As media companies strive to make money by putting content behind paid subscription walls, they fail to consider that the writers who create that content strive to get that content read by as many people as possible.

Good job, Saul Friedman. I expect you'll be very pleased writing for a blog. You'll have better interaction with your readers, you'll get better rankings in Google searches and you'll be able to share your posts with all your Facebook friends. Let us know how it goes, ok?
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