Newsday's Neil Best Says Goodbye

As Newsday.com becomes a pay site as of tomorrow, sports media writer extraordinaire and a Friend of Fang’s Bites, Neil Best has written a post in his blog wishing farewell to those who will not be paying $5 a week to subscribe to the site. I am part of those who will not pay. Unfortunately, this affects Fang’s Bites as Neil was a tremendous source of material not only for this blog, but many others across the country. A little piece of trivia, when I restarted my blog in earnest on May 2, 2007, Neil began his Watchdog blog and little did he know how popular it would become.

Through the blog, Neil has a loyal readership across the country, but with Cablevision’s purchase of Newsday and its desire to generate revenue from its website, it becomes a subscription model as of tomorrow. It’s Cablevision’s decision. I don’t have to like it, but I’m not running Newsday so the time has come to wish Neil nothing but the best (no pun intended). Normally, I would link to his blog post, but as of tomorrow, you won’t be able to read it unless you’re a subscriber. So I’m going to copy and paste his farewell. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but in order to reach the maximum audience, I provide it to you in full.

Thank you, WatchDog Nation

Alas, the time has come to say farewell to many members of WatchDog Nation, those who will not be joining us in our transition to a “subscriber” site, effective Wednesday.

The move has generated passionate debate, as in the 131-comment discussion that followed my post on this topic last week.

The fact people care so deeply must mean Newsday.com has done a good job of becoming a part of your lives.

But drastic times call for drastic measures. The latest newspaper circulation figures are grim – although Newsday fared much better than most.

The figures are depressing, but they also ignore the elephant in the room: More people are reading our stuff than ever, yet we are deriving little business benefit out of them. It’s ridiculous and unsustainable.

The question is how to justify it all in business terms. Direct revenue is one way, of course.

But the Cablevision/Newsday strategy, in which subscribers to Newsday and to Cablevision’s Internet service will continue to get Newsday.com gratis, is more nuanced and interesting than that.

The most thorough, honest explanation I have read about the decision and its implications can be found toward the bottom of this post by Davidoff.

Newsday’s core mission since 1940 has been covering Long Island – and the teams Long Islanders follow – more thorougly than any other media entity, now more than ever.

If this helps us do that as a viable, healthy business into the future, I’m all for it.

For those readers who won’t be coming along for the ride – especially those outside Cablevision territory who in many ways are innocent bystanders in all this – thank you for your readership, input and support.

You will be missed.

Thanks, Neil. I’ve come to know Neil, first through e-mails, then personally at Blogs with Balls 1.0 in New York earlier this year which was quite a thrill. But Neil is not totally going away. He’s on Twitter and also on Facebook so I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him down the line.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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