Nationwide newspaper trend hits Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Nationwide newspaper trend hits Iowa


A trend that has swept the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times is now, for the first time, reaching Iowa. These newspapers charge customers for online content.

One of KWWL's coverage partners, the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, is Iowa's first newspaper to try this. This change reflects a question the country's roughly 1,400 daily newspapers and their subscribers have been asking for a long time, TH executive editor Brian Cooper said.

"For years and years we've had print subscribers say, 'How come I'm paying you for a subscription when you give it away for free online?' And we think that's a fair question and a fair concern," Cooper said.

The jobs of reporters and photographers at the TH have changed since the newspaper went online 15 years ago. That's especially true in the past few years.

"Now we expect reporters to get a little video," Cooper said. "If it's a breaking news story, they've got to get back, maybe even using their cell phone to post something to the Website right away with a more full story to come."

He said charging for online content isn't about a dwindling number of subscriptions.

"We've held fairly steady on the subscription front, but more and more people are getting more and more comfortable with their news electronically, and we see that trend continuing over the long-term," Cooper said.

Much of the online content will remain free, including weather, national news and sports scores.

The TH's audience development and product manager, Jeff Wolff, has helped launch this change.

"People have been subscribing for the Telegraph Herald for 175 years, and we've been charging for that content," Wolff said, "and since the Internet came, we've been giving that content away for free."

The local reporting will no longer be free online.

"The biggest asset a media company has is the content that they collect," Wolff said.

"We're really zeroing in on the local and tri-state news that will be part of our subscription model," Cooper said.

The TH is not alone in this.

"We're seeing more and more community dailies that are charging online, so while we might be one of the first in this region, we're definitely not the first in the country," Cooper said.

People who already subscribe to the TH seven days a week will have free access to the site. All they have to do is enter their subscriber number under the "My Account" drop-down menu. Others can click "Subscribe" and gain access either monthly or on a day-by-day basis.

The TH launched its Website re-design on Wednesday. The pay wall, as it's called, goes up June 15.

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