The Chronicle, which announced last week that it is in danger of closing, will begin charging for access to some of the content it offers online, according to the Wall Street Journal. The other 15 papers in the Hearst chain will do the same, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which Hearst plans to close as a printed newspaper.

“Exactly how much paid content to hold back from our free sites will be a judgment call made daily by our management, whose mission should be to run the best free Web sites in our markets without compromising our ability to get a fair price from consumers for the expensive, unique reporting and writing that we produce each day,” Steven Swartz, the president of Hearst newspapers, said in a staff memo.

Swartz’s memo also suggests that there will be more subscription and single-copy price increases at the Chron and other Hearst papers: “Our print subscribers don’t pay us enough today that we can say they are actually paying for content. Rather, we only ask readers to pay for a portion of the cost of printing the paper on newsprint and delivering it to the reader’s doorstep.”

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  1. 25% is generous. Even companies that have been at this for more than a decade, like Gannett and the NY Times, don’t even get 10% of their revenues from online. Online has been a disaster for newspapers in terms of revenue.

    A big part of the problem is that reading comprehension is less on a computer screen than it is in print. People’s eyes bounce around when looking at a screen and not much sinks in. So the news has less impact, and the same is true with the ads. Ads work much better in print, provided the paper has solid readership.

  2. And how do you bring in advertisers through the internet? Reuters did a study and found that internet ads bring in only 25 percent of revenue, not enough to offset the loss of a physical newspaper. I, for one, do not look at the internet ads. And I know many of my friends don’t bother with ads on the internet.
    Seems as though all the rush to get newspapers on the internet was like opening pandora’s box. once you get a product for free, how do you make your readers pay for it?
    as for newspapers making money from the physical ads, isn’t that how Ben Franklin started when he set up the first newspaper?
    and it seems to have worked ever since.
    So, why did they change the game plan when it’s worked all these years? fools.

  3. Let’s face it, neither model seems to work. Time for a new one.

    On an aside, the Chron still hired people as of last year — yes, just before “letting go” of so many vets. It just seems whomever was making those management decisions (and possibly gone now) made poor ones.

  4. New York Times did this a few years ago, putting up a wall that required people to pay for their best columnists like Friedman and Dowd. The Times later abandoned it, saying they didn’t make more than $25m and lost out in far more revenue from potential advertising. In this same way, it seems Hearst is going in the wrong direction. Subscriptions have never paid much more than the cost of delivery. Most of the money newspapers get comes from advertising, and some papers rely solely on advertising revenue. As distasteful as it might seem to Hearst, it needs to focus on delivering more customers to their advertisers.

  5. about time. you can’t keep giving away this stuff for free. journalists, photographers and editors don’t work for free so why should their hard work given away?
    of course, that sets up the next question, will online readers, after having free access to stories, be willing to pay?
    expect a revolt, or at least a drop in online readership?

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