Newspapers online: Why Information Will No Longer Be Free
Newspapers online: Why Information Will No Longer Be Free
Newspapers online: why information will no longer be free. (Spotlight).
Columbia Journalism Review – January 1, 2003
Michael Scherer
Word count: 824.
citation details
The old broadcast model for online journalism, with free words and blinking banner ads, is heading the way of bankable stock options and the office foosball table.

Stung by a growing drift of readers and advertisers to the Internet, newspaper executives are betting on a bevy of online experiments designed to increase profits. The approaches range from new subscription models to more invasive, targeted advertising. Either way, the free ride that proved so costly for newspapers is coming to an end. Online news junkies will increasingly have to give up money or personal information to get their previously free fix.

“Newspapers are no longer willing to just write the Web site off as money-losing proposition,” says Jonathan Dube, a weekend producer for MSNBC who also runs “We already see much less free information.” From the Albuquerque Journal to The Columbus Dispatch, this less charitable approach has left nonsubscribers in the lurch, as the local papers of record have made their Web sites subscription-only operations. Meanwhile, many bigger newspaper companies have been investing in database technology that will allow them to track and profile Web visitors. Reader registration, once an experimental technology, has proven itself at many of the largest chains, allowing newspapers to sell specific types of readers to advertisers. And the trend is continuing. Later this year, the Tribune Company may become the first major chain to dramatically expand its pay-for-content services. “Were looking hard at all our options for introducing more subscription services,” says David Hiller, president of Tribune Interactive.

At stake is nothing less than the future of print journalism. Several recent studies suggest that print readers are turning to the Web for news. Traffic on newspaper Web sites in seven of the ten largest U.S. markets grew far faster in the first half of 2002 than the total Internet user base, according to comScore, an online market researcher. At the same time, consumers with six years of Web experience are three times more likely than Internet newcomers to decrease their print newspaper reading, according to Forrester Research. Another recent poll of online newspaper readers under the age of thirty found that 31 percent had reduced their print readership because the same material is online, a number that is expected to grow. “Newspaper circulation has been declining for years, and you see an online segment with great increases. One plus one equals two,” says Lynn Bolger, executive vice president of comScore.

Meanwhile, classified advertisers are continuing their flight to the Web, where costs are much lower. Between January 2001 and June 2002, U.S. newspaper revenue from help-wanted ads dropped by 40 percent, a $5.4 billion shortfall, according to Borrell Associates. Despite the current economic downturn, many analysts believe that much of that business, along with real estate and automobile listings, will never return to print papers given the rise of less expensive sites like,, and

This worries many smaller regional newspapers, whose local business base has been slow to commit to online advertising,

Get Your Essay

Cite this page

Growing Drift Of Readers And Newspaper Executives. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from