CRM Junkyard TMC

Surge In Paid News Sites Foreseen

March 30, 2005

Free subscriptions to online newspaper resources would become completely obsolete if Dow Jones President of Electronic Publishing Gordon Crovitz had his way. 

Reuters yesterday noted a likely rise in U.S. publishers trying to "wean readers off free Internet versions of their newspapers" by charging online subscription fees for all content.  

As a news junkie, I attain my contemporary news knowledge daily from between three (min.) and ten (rough max.) sources a day, usually before the workday begins--and depending, of course, upon amount of work/time per day, boss--not including the other online news sources that publish weekly and monthly, or sites for job-oriented (i.e., technology) updates. As it is, free subscriptions to online news that also appear in print is usually limited; often, news archives are available only to paid subscribers, as are crossword puzzles, etc.

(My reasoning for needing so many different news sources is a matter of principle and self-benefit: the more sources, the more views--and theoretically, the more opportunity for more facts and objectivity in deciding what is true and what is not. I'm not so naive as to believe everything in print or broadcast is true or unbiased. I frequently refer to international news organizations, too. Pardon my after-school-special Public Service Announcement defense.)

Here's some news---

Dow Jones Executive Foresees More Paid Web Sites

By Martha Graybow

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More U.S. publishers likely will try to wean readers off free Internet versions of their newspapers by starting to charge online subscription fees, a Dow Jones & Co. Inc. executive said on Tuesday.

Charging for news that appears in print -- and then giving it away over the Web -- is "an unsustainable business model," said Gordon Crovitz, president of electronic publishing at Dow Jones. The company's Wall Street Journal is the only national U.S. newspaper to restrict access to virtually its entire Web edition to paid subscribers.

"It would be good for the industry" for more publishers to follow suit, Crovitz said in an interview after a company presentation at the Banc of America Securities media conference in New York on Tuesday.

"Publishers in all mediums have tended to devalue their brands," he said. "I am very confident that other publishers will find ways to generate online subscription revenues."

Converting free newspaper Web sites to a paid subscription business is a big issue in the publishing industry.

Paid Internet sites can help publishers bring in new subscription revenue from readers who want access to the online content, but free sites are attractive to advertisers because they attract many more readers.

Internet advertising is growing much faster than traditional print advertising, although it still represents only a small amount of overall ad revenue.

New York Times Co. has been reviewing whether to charge for its Web edition, but it has not made any announcement about its plans. The New York Times already charges fees for access to parts of its Web site, such as its daily crossword puzzle and news archives.

Other papers, like Tribune Co.'s Chicago Tribune, provide Web edition subscribers with access to things like archives and special offers from local businesses.

Dow Jones, however, doesn't charge for all of its content on the Web. The company recently bought online financial news provider Marketwatch Inc., content of which is freely available on the Web. Crovitz said Marketwatch is expected to remain free because it is an Internet-only publication that does not compete with a print version of itself.

The Wall Street Journal's online edition has more than 700,000 paid subscribers. A subscription costs $79 a year, or $39 for readers who already subscribe to the print edition.

Crovitz said it is possible the online Journal ultimately will raise its subscription price as it "adds value" to the site.

Several months ago, the online Journal began cracking down on subscribers who share their passwords with many other users. The newspaper started using software on the site to restrict the number of computers that can use a single password at the same time.

That move has led to a small increase in online Journal circulation among people "who wanted to be sure they had their own passwords," Crovitz said.

Dow Jones competes with global news and information provider Reuters Group Plc in delivering news and other content; the two are joint owners of Factiva, a news archive. Dow Jones shares were down 20 cents at $37.17 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.



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