Everyone likes free, but ultimately it’s not a good business model | Publisher's column

For a number of years, the newspaper industry has struggled with how to navigate the online world and continue to succeed and thrive as a business.

Yes, a business.

Newspapers — the Whidbey News-Times included — share many of the same challenges and concerns as any other business in our community.

This week, I talked with one business owner who shared how she’s making significant changes in how she is adapting her business model to ride out what she calls a “depression.”

The fact is, we are all in this economy together, and it’s critical to adapt.

Years ago, as the Internet was taking off, and as more people began going online, most newspapers believed they needed to give away the news for free in order to compete with all that was available in cyberspace.

At the time, that was true.

Here at the News-Times, nearly everything that currently appears in print becomes available online in fairly short order.

Everyone likes getting things for free, myself included. However, it’s not a business model that can sustain itself.

As the newspaper industry evolves in the Internet age, paywalls are rising on newspaper websites across the country. For a long time, no newspaper wanted to be the first to raise a pay wall, and those that did were deemed brave.

For those unfamiliar, a paywall is an arrangement whereby access to a website is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site.

Newspapers are increasingly raising paywalls. They’re finding that readers clearly place value in the news and information that community newspapers provide.

All for less than the price of a cup coffee.

Yes, change is once again in the air for community newspapers.

Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher for the Whidbey News-Times. He can be reached by email at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com


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