Newspapers Adapt to the Times: Will Charge for Online Content

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It's amazing that it took this long. But MediaNews Group, which owns the Denver Post and more than 140 other papers, plans to start charging users for online content. "We cannot continue to give all our content away for free," says CEO William Dean Singleton.

Singleton went on to say, "We continue to do an injustice to our print subscribers and create perceptions that our content has no value by putting all of our print content online for free. Not only does this erode our print circulation, it devalues the core of our business — the great local journalism we (and only we) produce on a daily basis."

Current and future print subscribers will have full access to online content, while those who want digital-only news will be directed to a separate paid registration page. Not only is this a good idea, but the print newspaper industry basically has no other choice.

Consumers have any number of choices from which to get their news - Google, blogs, Digg, CNN to name just a few. What these massive media sources cannot offer is the local flavor of newspapers - the columnists, the beat reporters and the in-depth coverage of special interest stories. And why not charge for this content. Not only is it an additional revenue stream, but it also supports the overall goal of the industry, to sell newspapers, sell advertisements and gain readership.

For Web professionals and publishers, there's a lesson to be learned here.

Read: Transparency is So 2008.

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3 comments

RitaM 05-17-2009 1:42 PM

Sounds like a good idea but my bet is they will eventually lose most of their readership. Good luck to them!

JasonG 06-11-2009 11:11 AM

I use to work for a newspaper and this has been a hot subject for a while. I think it's hard to charge for online content, when most of us are use to getting it for free. There are going to be other avenues for readers in those markets to get their news online. I don't foresee a lot of people willing to pay for it online.

BradleyK 08-19-2009 1:49 PM

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard, or been a part of, this argument over the last 15+ years.

Unfortunately, I think their readership will lament the fact they're loosing touch with the great 'local' columnists, but they will move on and find others they like. And they won't have to pay for it.

Bradley

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