Thursday, September 26, 2013

USA Today Ponders Paywall as Newsstand Price Set to Double

USA Today
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
USA Today President and Publisher Larry Kramer today clarified his comments that appeared in the New York Post that the national newspaper was considering erecting a paywall to charge online readers, telling that  "no plan exists" for the Gannett Co.-owned flagship daily to charge digital readers.

Paywalls already are in place at national dailies, The New York Times and Wall St. Journal, not to mention Gannett's 80 other daily newspapers (see "TUOL" post 2/23/12). With a combined digital and print readership of 1,674,306 that makes it the nation's third largest newspaper, USA Today suffered a 12 percent drop-off in circulation revenue during the Second Quarter of 2013, according to the Post article.

USA Today is days away from doubling its single-copy price to $2 from $1, the first price hike in six years. The increase, necessitated by sagging circulation and ad revenues, is prompting Gannett to remove many of its iconic white, tv-shaped newspaper boxes. Rather than expect faithful followers to jingle as they walk down the street with a pocketful of quarters, Gannett instead has hammered out deals with Starbucks and the Duane Reade pharmacy chain to serve as outlets where the daily may be purchased.

In an attempt to inject new life into the brand, a section including articles from the Life, Money and News sections of USA Today will begin to appear in Gannett-owned dailies in Indianapolis, Appleton (Wis.), Fort Myers and Rochester. Gannett has dubbed the experiment Project Butterfly for reasons unclear to "TUOL," except perhaps that the insect and the paper weigh about the same nowadays and both are more likely to face a gaining net than net gains.

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