A Franklin County town and the local newspaper that covers it are at odds over a public records request.
Town officials estimated The Wake Weekly, a Restoration Newsmedia newspaper, would have to pay a fee of about $70,000 before the town could comply with a public records request the paper made this month.
Legal experts called the fee "insane" and "shocking."
Town officials have since reduced that charge to about $15,000, a price the newspaper says is still too high.
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Nearly 7,000 people threatened to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Here's what got them to stay.
You're a print newspaper subscriber, and one morning your paper doesn't show up. You call customer service (how brave of you!) and threaten to cancel. The apologetic customer service rep offers you a discount for the remainder of your subscription, which you accept. But what will you do when that subscription comes up for renewal?
According to a new study from Notre Dame and Emory, newspaper subscribers who receive a short-term price adjustment to quell the disappointment of a delivery failure are actually less likely to renew their subscription when the time comes – suggesting that newspapers might want to adjust their tactics for addressing customer complaints. Among the things they can try instead: Renewal discounts, extending or upgrading the subscriber's existing subscription, and regularly taking the opportunity to remind customers of what the "full" subscription price is.
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In May, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet spoke before the INMA World Congress of News Media audience and shared his dismal prediction concerning the future of journalism-that most local newspapers were going to die in the next five years.
"The greatest crisis in American journalism is the death of local news," he said. "Their economic model is gone."
It's true that the traditional economic model may be gone, but many local and national newspapers are using their ambition and creativity to explore new and exciting business models with hopes that it will create sustainable revenue for many years to come.
E&P spoke with several of these newsrooms to discuss their clever ideas.
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The rookie campaigns of many newspapers' digital sports subscriptions are over. Now comes the work of developing the standalone subscription products into long-lasting sources of revenue.
After the success of The Athletic proved that sports coverage is a passion area that can drive people to take out their wallets, newspapers carved out their sports coverage as discrete subscription products. The bet is these products, while priced lower than a full digital subscription, will draw in sports fans who primarily rely on the publication for sports coverage versus, say, city hall reporting. Newspaper publishers ranging from Hearst to McClatchy to The Dallas Morning News all piled into the space, and upstart news publications such as the Daily Memphian, which launched in the fall of 2018, did too.
For example, McClatchy, which has put a sports content product called SportsPass out in 10 of its 30 markets since launching its first in August 2018, is figuring out how to expand SportsPass past its core offering of unlimited access to that market's sports content for $30 per year. It is kicking around ideas ranging from conference calls with reporters to exclusive livestreams on Facebook, Miami Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch said.
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An unprecedented amount of formal research on digital subscription models, and a few frantic years of legacy media organizations and startups alike experimenting with them, are beginning to provide a blueprint for getting readers to pay for online news.
It starts with the basic understanding that convincing someone to purchase a digital subscription is different than print. So much news has been free online and for so long. And a digital subscription is not a tangible, manufactured product that people automatically associate a dollar value with.
In most cases, you are also competing with the fact that someone could search for comparable content and get at least 60 to 70 percent of what they were looking for, for free, instantaneously. Is that extra 30 percent of value worth paying for, or is what's available for free elsewhere good enough?
That's why even news organizations that are pursuing a traditional "paywall" subscription model should be paying attention to the research and experiments with membership programs.
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Report for America 2019 corps members spent one week in Houston, Texas, training with top journalists from around the country. This included attending three days of RFA-exclusive sessions, the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, several smaller RFA gatherings and evening events.MORE
These are rickety times for newspapers. A major issue: printing a paper costs lots of money. Delivering the paper costs lots of money.
So the McClatchy chain, which has 30 newsrooms, is on a learning journey to find out how to get readers to go from print to digital.
In April, the McClatchy-owned Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News went from publishing a print product seven days a week to six. It cut the print edition and produced only digital stories on Saturdays. Because digital activation increased 8 percent in one month, revenue was not impacted and virtually no one cancelled their subscription, McClatchy is adding two more papers to what it calls “Digital Saturdays.” The Durham (N.C.) Herald Sun and the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald will no longer print on Saturdays, starting July 6.MORE
Here's a taste of what you'll hear in Chicago, Oct. 6-8:
- Walter Hussman reports on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's bold move to convert all its subscribers to digital subscribers.
- Recruitment guru Laurie Kahn on what newspapers need to do to assemble a team of sales superstars.
- The Post and Courier reveals results from the Google News Initiative – literally days after its conclusion.
- News from Washington on the newspaper industry's fight to get a fair share of revenue from Facebook and Google.Springs.
Read about the latest job openings posted on the SNPA website. And, send us your listings to post at no cost.More