Another Colorado paper to charge for website

The Greeley Tribune is the latest Colorado newspaper that will charge readers for its online content, the newspaper announced Sunday.

The transition, which is to begin in November, is part of a national trend among newspapers large and small.

Swift Communications, the Carson City, Nev.-based company that owns the Tribune, has been converting several of its papers’ websites to subscriber only, said Bill Waters, director of operating and finance and controller.

The chain owns several newspapers in the state, including the Aspen Times and Vail Daily, but they are not expected to follow suit.

The chain’s free publications, such as the Grand Junction Free Press and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, also are not affected.

Waters said the decision was made because an increasing number of newspaper owners are realizing that it makes little sense to give away their product.

“That’s the general idea for the industry,” Waters said. “Lots of newspapers are doing it; some of ours are already done.”

In Sunday’s article, Tribune Publisher Bart Smith said the paper will begin charging for some of its online news content much in the same way The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel does.

That means certain stories, such as breaking news and public safety information, will remain free, but more in-depth stories will require a subscription.

Most of the state’s newspapers offer free online content, but some are charging. They include such papers as The Montrose Daily Press, the Rio Blanco Herald Times, the Denver Business Journal and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

Earlier this year, MediaNews, the parent company that owns the Denver Post and several other Front Range newspapers, announced that 23 of its papers will launch online subscriptions, but none of them is in Colorado.

Daily Sentinel Publisher Jay Seaton, who converted the newspaper’s website, http://www.gjsentinel.com, to a paid site a year ago, said he’s pleased to see more newspapers follow suit.

Like Smith, Seaton said newspapers giving away their product isn’t a sustainable business practice.

“If you’re accustomed to getting your news from the New York Times, you could just go over to the Washington Post for national news. But for local community news, like Grand Junction or Greeley, where else are you going to go?” he said.

“You’ve got what really is two identical products with the same content; it’s just that one is delivered on paper and one’s delivered via electrons.

“If you’re charging for one but you’re giving one away, you’re driving your customers away. That would be fine if it made any economic sense.”


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