Denver Post, MediaNews plan to start charging for Web news (Denver Post, do MediaNews, nos EUA, planeja cobrar por notícia na web)

Parece que a “sentença” do magnata da mídia Rupert Murdoch, de que os jornais teriam que começam a cobrar pelo conteúdo online (que reportamos aqui neste blog), parece estar se transformando em realidade.

Vamos ver no que vai dar!

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Denver Post, MediaNews plan to start charging for Web news

Denver Business Journal – by Mark Harden

, owner of the Denver Post and 53 other daily newspapers in 11 states, says it plans to stop providing free online access to all its newspaper content on its websites and will develop ways to charge readers for some of its Web content.

DBJ file
MediaNews Group CEO William Dean Singleton

MediaNews Group Inc.

“We cannot continue to give all of our content away for free,” MediaNews CEO William Dean Singleton and President Joseph “Jody” Lodovic said in a memo to company employees.

The May 8 memo was reprinted Tuesday by the Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko in his online column and by the trade journal Editor & Publisher on its website.

The memo is the latest expression of a view that seems to be gaining traction among mass-circulation newspaper publishers — that in the face of unprecedented advertising and circulation declines that have some predicting the demise of the American daily newspaper, the old model of putting all of a newspaper’s print content online for free may need to change.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch — whose News Corp. owns the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers in the U.S., Britain and Australia — said in an analysts’ conference call May 7 that he expects his newspapers’ websites to start charging users for access within a year.

“It is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning,” Murdoch said. “… The current days of [free content on] the Internet will soon be over.”

The MediaNews memo says, “We continue to do an injustice to our print subscribers and create perceptions that our content has no value by putting all of our print content online for free. Not only does this erode our print circulation, it devalues the core of our business — the great local journalism we (and only we) produce on a daily basis.”

Online advertising revenue for many daily newspapers has grown as print advertising has declined, but not nearly enough to cover the gap in most cases.

“Our interactive revenue growth has slowed because it has been too closely tied to our print classified business, which has suffered with the advent of Craigslist and other free online classified opportunities,” the MediaNews memo says. “[And] we are not significantly extending the reach of our audience, as our online products too closely resemble the newspaper, and thus fail to meaningfully reach the next generation of readers.”

Under the MediaNews plan, “If a non-subscriber wants the newspaper content in its entirety online, they will be directed to some sort of registration or pay vehicle (and if they are a print subscriber, they will have full access at no charge),” the memo said.

Newspapers across the country have been considering charging for access to online news, and it isn’t surprising that MediaNews could be one of the first major players to try it, said John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst in Silver Springs, Md.

MediaNews’ Singleton, who’s also chairman of the Associated Press, has been outspoken about unpaid reuse of online news and its effect on the industry.

But MediaNews will have to proceed slowly and phase in an online payment system gradually to reverse the perception that its online news is free, Morton said.

“I don’t think you can do it overnight, or you’d risk losing everyone,” he said.

The longstanding argument for making newspaper content available for free online is that Internet users are accustomed to receiving free content and most won’t tolerate having to pay for it. The thinking goes that readers would simply switch to a competing free news website rather than pay.

Some newspapers provide print content for free online but require readers to register by providing basic personal information — a practice that makes it easier for advertisers to reach target groups.

Still others — including the Denver Business Journal and its sister newspapers in the American City Business Journals chain — use a “lockout” system that makes print content available online only to paid subscribers, while online-only news updates (such as the one you’re reading now) are available free to all.

The Wall Street Journal makes much of its print content available only to subscribers and offers an online-only subscription option. The New York Times experimented with offering “premium” print content online for a fee, but has discontinued the experiment.

Many newspapers, including the Post, already sell “e-editions,” digital replicas of their print publication.

MediaNews says it will now “build a strategic plan that places a value on our content, protects our core print business, extends the reach of our audience, and creates new revenue opportunities online.”

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