Newspaper execs embrace online news delivery

Newspaper executives say new online subscription models are paying off

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Executives at some of the nation's largest newspaper companies say they are more hopeful about their future after seeing readership grow for digital subscriptions.

Speaking at the American Society of News Editors' annual convention, the newspaper executives said Monday that increased use of their digital products is resulting in higher revenue.

Patrick J. Talamantes, president and CEO at The McClatchy Co., said that his company was getting an additional $25 million in revenue this year from its new subscription models that charge for online content.

Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Co., also reported success from its digital subscriptions. Readers typically must pay to read stories on The New York Times' website after viewing 10 stories for free each month.

Newspaper companies have struggled in recent years with declining circulation for their printed editions. They are still reaching large audiences through their websites and mobile apps, although readers have grown accustomed to receiving that content for free.

Many companies are experimenting with new pricing models that include online subscriptions for content that had previously been free. The business model is gaining momentum, according to the executives.

The New York Times Co. ended the January-March quarter with 708,000 digital-only subscriptions. That's up 45 percent from a year ago.

McClatchy, which publishes The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, The Miami Herald and 28 other daily newspapers, ended the quarter with 22,000 digital-only subscribers.

In June, The Washington Post began selling digital subscriptions, using a metered subscription model much like the Times. The Post now requires a paid subscription after readers view 20 articles or multimedia features per month.

Several of the executives at the ASNE convention said the digital content their newspapers published would not take the place of their printed editions, at least for the next five years.

"We have tried to make sure we publish every day," Talamantes said.

But that hasn't been the case for all newspapers. The Oregonian announced Thursday that it was shifting its emphasis to digital delivery of news, reducing home delivery to four days a week. That follows the strategy of other Advance Publication Inc. newspapers, including The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Newspapers in Detroit still publish daily, but have reduced home delivery to three times a week.

Thompson said The New York Times had no plans to reduce daily print publication. Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, said she believed it was important to supply readers with a daily print edition.

But Gracia C. Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, was less certain.

"I can't predict what is going to exist in five years," she said.

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