Gannett papers to charge for online content

by Cy Brown

In a recent piece, Jeff Bercovici, of Forbes Magazine, wrote on how Gannett Company will be moving 80 of its local newspapers to a paywall format for online content. The format will be similar to that of the New York Times, which allows readers to access a limited amount of online content before having to pay for more. USA Today is the only Gannett paper excluded from the new format, for the time being.

One public affairs journalism issue is the shift of to an emphasis in online publication at many newspapers. The newspaper industry was late getting into the internet boom. By not putting as many resources into online content, newspapers fell behind purely online publications when it comes to where readers look for content online. Now the industry is playing catch up.

Another public affairs journalism issue is whether readers will be willing to pay for online content that they are so used to getting for free. The online content consumer is not used to paying for news online. The change will most likely meet resistance from consumers.  There would have to be a large scale shift into premium content, on multiple fronts, for the general public to accept the change. Newspapers will also have to incentivize online content with extra features, such as video.

What are your thoughts? Did the newspaper industry go online too late? Do you believe the new paywall model will be successful? Would you pay for news content online?  If not, what features could be added online to increase your willingness to pay?

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One Comment on “Gannett papers to charge for online content”

  1. RM Catalina says:

    A recent study I read said that newspapers get 80 percent of their revenue from advertising. I suspect the number is closer to 100 percent because I have to believe the cost of producing and distributing a printed paper is greater than subscription revenue. But publishers seem to be locked in a time warp, wanting to retain that revenue stream (one they lose money on today) while charging the same price for a digital subscription, which probably costs about 5-cents per day. I think the magic price point for an annual daily newspaper e-subscription is probably $19.95. Any small loss in subscription revenue would be made up by the increased circulation and higher rates to advertisers. The main problem, I think, is that newspaper publishers still see themselves in the newspaper printing business and not in the news content creation business.


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