Media CEOs ‘hopeful’ about digital subscription growth

Associated Press | Folha de S. Paulo

At the American Society of News Editors convention in Washington, D.C., Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger listened to various newspaper honchos speak about about whether they’d keep publishing daily editions, especially in light of recent changes at Advance-owned papers that have reduced the frequency of print editions and home delivery.

McClatchy’s CEO Patrick Talamantes, New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson and Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth all said they were sticking with daily publication. Gannett CEO and President Gracia Martore “was less certain,” Crutsinger reports. “I can’t predict what is going to exist in five years,” she said.

The executives were bullish on paywalls, Crutsinger writes; McClatchy had “22,000 digital-only subscribers” at the end of the last quarter. He says the CEOs were “hopeful about their future” after seeing digital subscriptions grow.”

The large Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo marks the first anniversary of its paywall, which is similar to The New York Times’, by noting that visitors, pageviews and subscriptions have all grown in the past year. “[I]nternet users are more willing to pay for access to reliable and good-quality information,” Folha Executive Editor Sérgio Dávila tells his paper.

Last October, Dávila and Nelson De Sá talked with New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., about his company’s plan to launch a Brazilian edition. Speaking of business back home, Sulzberger said, “We have to be where our customers want us. As long as they want us in print, we’ll be in print. And as long as they want us in other devices, we must be there for them. The math has not changed in centuries: quality journalism attracts a quality audience that we can sell to quality advertisers.”

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