Nor’easter blows Newsday’s paywall down

Long Island and Westchester/Rockland editions providing free access

The paywall at Newsday — both its Long Island and Westchester/Rockland versions — has come down … for now. According to spokesperson Lauren Andrich, the paywall was taken down Monday to help its coverage areas, many still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, prepare for Wednesday’s predicted Nor’easter.

Newsday may have removed its paywall during Sandy, but the paper restored it too soon for journalism professor and Twitter “mindcaster” Jay Rosen, who criticized the site for asking the public to assist with its coverage of working gas stations without making that information available to everyone. (Newsday’s Twitter account responded by pointing out that the open gas station list was available to all on its Facebook page.)

Andrich says the paywall will stay down for the duration of the storm, citing the importance of keeping the public informed: “With everything going on, there’s still information that needs to get out there.” The decision on when to restore the paywall, she says, will be made after the storm passes. So for most of this week, at least, it looks like non-subscribers can read all the Newsday they want!

Newsday has no current plans to publicize or announce the paywall removal, in contrast to how eager The New York Times and Wall Street Journal were to let the world know when they took their paywalls down (for purely philanthropic reasons alone, I’m sure). Both publications dropped their paywalls again for 24 hours during the election.

This makes Newsday’s decision especially odd. If it’s providing free content as a public service, why not tell the public about it? I doubt Newsday will see a huge traffic bump from people who happened to stop by just in case the four-year-old paywall happened to be down.

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison. Tags: ,