Why Strib lets print scoop its website
By Nancy Barnes
I’ve gotten more response from readers on my print-first announcement than anything I’ve written in two years.
Most of the comments are very positive, thanking me for rewarding paying customers with exclusive content. A few have called me an idiot and one told my publisher he should fire me and publish it as a print exclusive.
Overall, though, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response.
For now, we are holding out the best of the Sunday content, and putting it online on Wednesday. But breaking news, of course, still goes up on our website immediately.
What types of stories are we holding out?
Exclusive investigative pieces, most projects (except those that cannot succeed without the online pieces), deep profiles, mid-range enterprise, etc. In the Sunday paper, we label this as content that is only available in print and we are trying to make sure there is at least one piece in every section.
Why are we doing this?
We’ve been creating so much content just for the web and have had great success in driving traffic to the web that I just wanted to do something for our paying customers.
We don’t believe we will see a significant decrease in web traffic, since so much of that is driven by spot news. But we’re watching. We may expand this model in the future if it turns out to be successful for us.
You can see what stories we are holding out on the web on Sunday, because we promo them as print exclusives on the website. Some of these promos have been getting a lot of traffic, particularly if it is on a topic of great interest.
Last Sunday, for example, we had a story on the collapse of a well-known auto dealer’s empire that we held out only for print. That promo got tremendous traffic.
Some subscribers who read both online and in print have asked me to make the print-first content available to them online in a more timely manner, so they can read any way they want to. This is probably a next step for us.
We’ve only been doing this about two weeks, so I don’t think it’s possible to point to any impact on circulation.
This is an experiment. It might fail.
But I think all of us have to try to do things differently, to challenge the status quo and the groupthink, to find some new ways of doing business. If it doesn’t work, we haven’t lost a thing.