Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Newspapers Online - Newport News

Some people get it. Some people don't. Lots of really smart people thought they knew what they were doing when they put all of their content online for free. Not the Newport News in Rhode Island. Check out the video below - they seem to have engaged the simplest solution to the online dilemma, and it's working for them.

Newport Daily News: Charging for news online from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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JeffH said...

So their solution is to stick their heads in the sand, do the same thing they have been doing for 100 years, and hope that people will still keep buying the print news? I don't see any real solution here.

Gregg said...

"they seem to have engaged the simplest solution to the online dilemma, and it's working for them."

How do you figure that? There was no mention of increased ad sales.
There was no mention of increased home delivery or newsstand sales.
There were no stats indicating higher online prices were driving customers to the print version of the paper.

The take-away for me is...they don't have a clue. They are simply throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks.

Rich Green said...

Regarding the previous comment, they might just be throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks, but aren't many businesses doing that today with all the economic shifts going on?
On one point they were clear to me - they're a small newspaper and they know they can't compete with international or national news. But they can hold their own with local issues - what the big boys don't care about.
They're in business and thriving. What more is there to understand?

photo retouching said...

Any company that does not embrace the new online trends and technology will slowly fade int oblivion!

Anonymous said...

I think the point John is trying to make is that this particular newspaper stopped putting their product online for free and its working. If you listened closely, they hinted as to how.

The man states that for years newspapers were trying to figure out how to "monetize" the internet. Well step one is to bill for it and that's what this paper did. They also wanted to drive people back to their newsprint version. They accomplished this by putting less content online than what they put in print. Then they charged twice as much for the online content. You heard the response... people complained as to "why should I pay the online fee when I can just buy your paper"... BINGO.

Its reverse psychology. For years people have been saying "why buy your paper when I can get it online for free"... well, now they can't. People will pay for news no matter what the media is used to deliver it to them. So bill them for print or bill them for the net... it doesn't matter... just bill them.

Andre Friedmann said...

The Newport News's publisher is refreshing: his paper's going to charge readers for content, whether it's online or in print.

Anonymous said...

Melcher posted this two weeks ago.

John Harrington said...

Actually, Paul, it was on your blog just a week prior, and on the Nieman Journalism Lab about a week prior to that, and I scheduled it to post on my blog when it did.

- John

T. C. Knight said...

The key here people is "NO DEBT". I had an interesting coversation with a publisher not long ago. He said that historically, newpapers provided a 35% return on investment. He said "It was like printing money." That is an incredible ROI. So, hostile takeovers of newspapers ensued that leveraged the purchase with debt, RELYING upon that 35% return on investment. Then the internet took the cash cow (classified ads) and now the ROI becomes 10%. They are mortgaged for 35% (debt) and now they go bankrupt. Most other businesses these days would feel like they struck the jackpot if they are getting 10% ROI.

The only thing the internet has done to newspapers is to take away their classifieds revenues. Debt and opinionated reporting is what is killing the big boys.

ntokb3 said...

Its nice that they have a wealthy benefactor to support them, but I don't see a sustainable business model in here. The paper is "offering the online edition to subscribers at a premium price." They are charging more for the online version than for the print edition so that their customers will stay with a paper product??

It boggles the mind. I like that they're charging for content, that makes sense. But printed newspapers have always been a loss leader for dailies... the infrastructure needed to produce and distribute the paper costs way more than what the customer is willing to pay. I think this paper is caught up in nostalgia and is forgetting their actual business, the sale and delivery of advertising. If their ad revenues are impacted positively because of this backward business model, I'll eat my hat. They should be charging for content online, but at a rate that reflects the lower costs associated with distributing the online product. If they're trying to make a profit from content, not just off advertising then they should be trying to maximize their subscriber base and that always involves pricing your product competitively. The small marginal costs they incur for increased online subscriptions could really be a boon for their profits if they weren't so wrapped up in the allure of the printed page.

T. C. Knight said...


I think you are missing an important point here. They are both profitable using this business model and their subscriber base is GROWING. If this is a backward business model then I need to find one too!

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