But recent years have shown that by doing well in your garden, you can maintain enough staff to cover it ambitiously.
The Los Angeles Times has more than doubled its digital subscriptions over the past two years to 450,000. The Boston Globe, which says it generates enough digital revenue to support its newsroom, has increased its digital subscribers over the past two last year and a half to 226,000 versus 100,000, according to figures provided by the newspaper, which John W. Henry bought from The New York Times Company in 2013. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s digital-only subscriptions have grown 28% annually last, reaching over 60,000.
“We don’t need to get out of our zone to achieve really nice and sustainable profitability,” said Grant Moise, president and publisher of The Dallas Morning News. With 176 reporters, “The News is at least twice as big as any local television, radio station or competitor,” he added. “We have to own this.”
Not everyone is optimistic about the ability of digital subscriptions to save local newspapers. Two media scholars, Iris Chyi from the University of Texas at Austin and Sun Ho Jeong from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, studied 20 metropolitan daily newspapers across the country and found that the median number of digital subscribers had almost doubled between 2016 and 2019, then roughly doubled between 2019. in the third quarter of 2020 before leveling off. Meanwhile, median press subscriptions more than halved between 2016 and 2021, they said, which, combined with digital subscription rates that were about six times cheaper than print , resulted in an overall loss of subscription revenue for many newspapers.
“Just because print is in decline doesn’t mean digital is salvation,” Chyi said.
Yet while Ms. Chyi noted that low digital rates — especially introductory rates for as little as 25 cents a week — put a ceiling on revenue, many newspapers advanced to higher rates. The Globe was a pioneer in pricing its digital subscription as a premium product, charging $6.93 per week, which equals 99 cents per day, as early as 2015.
In addition, dozens of digital-only local news stories have popped up across the country. Freed from many of the costs associated with older newspapers – real estate, print distribution, larger newsrooms – they are designed to derive an overwhelming share of their income from readers, in the form of donations or subscriptions.