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Newspapers Adapt to the Times: Will Charge for Online Content

Posted on 5.13.2009

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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