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Projo’s Sister Paper is Going to a Pay Model for Online, When is Providence?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

 

The Dallas Morning News, the sister paper of the Providence Journal and Projo.com, is moving to a paywall model. According to D Magazine in Dallas, the Dallas Morning News is aggressively moving to a pay-for-access Web model that may launch as early as December of this year. The move by A.H. Belo, the parent company of both the Dallas Morning News and the Providence Journal, is in response to declining circulation and a dramatic decrease in advertising sales numbers. According to an A.H. Belo quarterly investor call in 2009, the Providence Journal would go behind a paywall in 2010, but that seems to be delayed until 2011.

During the past three decades the Providence Journal’s weekday print circulation has been cut in half and this past year dropped another 10%.  According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations - the Providence Journal dropped below 100,000 to just 96,595 per day (a number that includes free copies and newspapers in schools).  In 1990, the Providence Journal's circulation was 203,647.

Paywall Attempts

Memos circulated at the Providence Journal in the past couple of months claim the Projo.com site will go behind some form of a paywall in 2011. Previous effort in the United States to transform open digital news sites into a pay-model have often proved fruitless. Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, launched a paywall model. The paper that enjoyed circulation of 481,000 in 2004, but is now down to 314,000 as of September of 2010.

To combat the lose of circulation, Newsday launched a paywall of $5 a week or $260 a year, for unlimited access to newsday.com. After 3 months, only 35 consumers had signed up for the service.

Boston Going Pay Too

The projo is not the region's only. Early this fall, the Boston Globe announced they would create a bifurcated digital strategy that created a pay model for the Boston Globe's online content and leave the "softer" content free to users. According to the industry's venable trade publication, Editor & Publisher, the Globe: 

Whereas Boston.com will continue to offer breaking news, sports, and weather from various sources, along with classified advertising, social networking, and information about travel, restaurants and entertainment, BostonGlobe.com will be designed to mirror the experience of reading the paper’s print edition. It will contain all the reports from the day’s paper as well as exclusive reports, in-depth news, analysis, commentary, photos and graphics, plus video and interactive features.

Providence When?

Dallas-based Belo's decision to put the projo.com behind a paywall will be a challenge for the company. According to the Providence Phoenix, a Howard Sutton e-mail sent to employees read, "Projo.com will remain a free Web site that emphasizes most of the content that our online audiences value highly. Meanwhile, we will be more discriminating and deliberate in how we disseminate our premium newspaper content."

What, when and how the projo.com transforms from an open-news content site to a restricted paywall is an unknown. The movement by the Dallas News next month may be a good indication of the Belo-model.

 

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