Why Two Editors Keep Their Eyes on the 'Prize': Print

By: Joe Strupp With all the focus on expanding online offerings and figuring out how to make that investment pay, San Francisco Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee offers another view: One way to boost revenue, he says, is by placing more exclusive content in the print edition. Bushee started with a new column by former editor Phil Bronstein, which began running Mondays in July, but only in print.

"It does not appear that a Web site can support a robust newsroom," he says of the charging-online strategy. "It may involve pay-per-view or holding off putting content online that gives the print model a unique element."

If newspapers give print readers something they can't get online, they can better sell the print product, Bushee adds. "You are going to see more of them being more aggressive on subscriber pricing," he claims. "The customer will be asked to pay more to have a print subscription."

But Bushee is not averse to a paid-Web strategy if it doesn't discount the value of the print edition, and if it can actually bring in paid Web readers. "All of that is up for discussion now," he says. "The key is that the standards of a big newsroom have to be supported."

Another veteran, Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star, sees little payoff for paid online content right now, and a need to make the print product more valuable. "People get a really good deal in print for what we are already offering," he says. "I increasingly wonder if it is good strategy to put the [print] newspaper online. I hear from readers that they subscribe to the paper ? and their neighbor reads it online for free. We have to have active Web sites and breaking news has to be part of it. But maybe we should look at doing something different online. What we are doing now isn't working."


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