The Asheville Citizen-Times this week launched an interesting experiment in attempt to bolster its withering print product. On Sunday, the newspaper launched a three-day series about the paper mill out in Haywood County.
The newspaper billed the story — an exclusive look inside a economic engine and a big polluter — as a “print exclusive.” The newspaper touted the stories online, but you had to buy the print product to read the stories.
I have yet to see an explanation about the approach from the editors at the Citizen-Times, but you can bet that you’ll be seeing more of this. While there’s nothing new about this approach, I wouldn’t doubt that the “print exclusive” is being pushed by the newspaper’s corporate owner, Gannett. I’m sure we’ll see a concerted effort to keep moving people to pick up the printed newspaper as the newspaper struggles with how to stay financially viable in the digital age, where most of your news is free.
At least one former Citizen-Times editor, who also recently launched a “print exclusive” at his Gannett newspaper in Ohio, offers some explanation about the move. Here’s Tom Graser, editor of the Marion Star.
The idea of a print-only story is that we are using the strength of each medium to its utmost. The Web site is there with the gist of the story and a place for interaction, while the newspaper allows the reader to take some time to absorb and understand an issue of great importance to our community.
This week is a bit of an experiment but, as we refine the process, I think you will see more and more of this type of reporting and distribution.
It’s either another last ditch attempt at saving a dying print medium, or an inspired move to serve two distinct audiences. I’m not sure a three-part series on Haywood County’s paper mill was sexy enough to draw people to print, and I’m wondering if the stories will ever be available online. But there’s something to be said about working to keep the print product a valuable entity. After all, it’s still paying most of the bills.
What do you think?
Category: Asheville News