How perform newspapers without paper?
March 2, 2011 12:06 PM Subscribe
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The Christian Science Monitor
is a well-reputed
newspaper. In October 2008 it announced that it would convert
its daily printed report to a weekly edition, and decided to focus primarily on its web site. Traffic rise
, money don't.
Only the paper edition is economically successful:
A year after the change, Yemma said monthly unique users are up 64% to 5.3 million, with monthly page views up 87% to 14.5 million, as of March 2010.
He also said the circulation for the paid weekly print edition is up from 43,000 at its launch to 77,000 today.
"That is a 79% growth and we are getting great reader reaction to it," Yemma said. He said overall revenue for the Monitor since the switch to Web-only has been higher than expected, $4.3 million.
But one drawback, the online ad revenue has been lower than expected, Yemma admitted. The Web ad revenue had been expected to come in at about $870,000 for the past 12 months, but is only at $490,000.
So, is web only
the future of newspapers? CSMonitor's editor John Yemma
Even though print still makes the bulk of the money?
In fact, that's true of the moment. And it's certainly true with most newspapers. But it's clear that the future is digital. That doesn't mean that you won't have print. It just means that you either lower the frequency of print -- which is what we did -- or you do what the Globe and the Houston Chronicle and others have done, which is to decrease your print footprint... down into your core readership areas, so that your supply chain and distribution chain is much cheaper. And then you raise your subscription rates -- which all of the big companies have done. So that's an attempt to keep print viable.
But you're talking about a generational transition. Anybody who's under 30 is a digital native and they don't have the print habit. They might like an occasional New Yorker or Wired that they buy at Barnes and Noble, but subscriptions -- not so much. So it's clear where the future is going, and that's to some sort of a digital model. And so you have to have a multi-platform strategy, which every news organization to some extent has. But the question is where you put the emphasis in that multi-platform strategy. Our emphasis is on Web-first, because we think we're building for the future in doing that -- but we're still producing a very strong print product, and it's doubled in circulation since we launched last April.