Tuesday, April 30, 2013

San Angelo's Reporting on the Business of Reporting

What did Scripps newpapers not report last December from the UBS Investors Media Conference?  They didn't cover their new paywall plan.  Poynter did:

Newspapers are on the fringe of this year’s annual UBS investors media conference in New York. Still, the meeting has provided a window on growing momentum in the industry for paid digital subscription plans.

E.W. Scripps is late to the paywall party,  announcing just two week ago that after a beta test this year in Memphis, it will roll out paid digital in its 13 other newspaper markets in 2013.

CEO Rich Boehne told me that he has become such a believer that he wants to introduce a version of paid digital content at Scripps’ dozen-plus local television stations as well.  He is not sure of the format yet, but said “we want to give it a try.” That will put Scripps among the first to experiment with paid digital on a broadcast news site.

In his presentation Tuesday, Boehne amplified that he expects the next 12 to 18 months will see most high quality local digital news moving to paid.
Scripps is after a "more balanced revenue pie and an improved bottom line for newspapers."  CEO Rich Boehne said “If you are going to launch a paywall, the content better be good.”  BizJournals reported in November 2012:

Scripps (NYSE: SSP) described it as key to restoring revenue growth in its shrinking newspaper division in a recent conference call with analysts.
The Columbia Journalism Review reported on the growing paywall trend:  Regarding the Standard Times' pricing model, they stated:

And in general, the more you’re asking for, the more coercive you need to be. At a buck or two a month, loyal readers are happy to support you. At $15 or $20 per month, you need to break out the sticks as well as the carrots.
Local citizens should expect sticks and carrots from the Standard Times.  The story concluded:

But all of the paywalls and consultants in the world won’t change the fact that the amount of information freely available on the internet continues to grow very fast, and that the number of people willing to pay for any kind of news online is always going to be a small fraction of the total online news-reading population. As Lacy says, there’s an exciting future for online news—even if the prospects for legacy-burdened newspapers are dim. The paywalls might help with newspapers’ finances. But they’re certainly not going to help make them any more relevant.
San Angelo is but one paper in Scripps system.  I don't expect our Publisher to address this issue in other than the most general terms.  Who should we look to for reporting on the business of reporting?

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