Media update: State News to add paywall; New regional editor for Whig, Post

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The Delaware State News has joined the parade of newspapers setting up “paywalls” that limit the number of stories that can be read each month at no charge.

The daily newspaper-website in Dover announced that subscribers, beginning in early November, will be limited to five free stories per month. Subscribers can pay what was described as a modest charge for getting all online.

The paper has been a holdout in rush toward paywalls. A part of Independent Media, the owner of papers on Delmarva, Florida and Arizona, the State News has upgraded its online presence in recent years after having a site that operated under the oddly named News Zap brand.

The News Journal, the state’s largest newspaper imposed the free story limit years ago, but more recently went to a “hard paywall” that restricts the views of many stories to subscribers.

The NJ is on track to become part of Gatehouse, owner of weekly papers in Delaware that include the Dover Post and Middletown Transcript. None of the state’s Gatehouse papers have paywalls.

The Delaware Business Times also imposed a story limit on its business news website. The Times follows the lead of American City Business Journals, which generates revenue through subscriptions that give readers access to journals in dozens of cities.

Paywalls are defended by media outlets that cite the costs of paying reporting and editing staffs. Print media has been decimated by sharp declines in advertising and print subscriptions.

Evidence is at best mixed on the impact of paywalls on daily newspaper revenues.

National outlets like the New York Times have reported gains in online subscription revenues.

However, smaller papers with less content have struggled to make paywalls into a significant revenue source. It’s a hard sell, since story counts are down as papers moved toward skeleton staffs.

In the meantime, no area radio or TV stations have turned to paywalls. Revenues at electronic outlets with websites have held up a little better than print.

In addition, aggregators, like Vista Today in Chester County, PA, provide links to the paid content while offering a summary of the story.

Regional editor for APG Chesapeake

APG Chesapeake has a new Upper Shore regional editor.

Texas native and published author B. Rae Perryman is taking the post, which includes working with the editorial staffs of the Cecil Whig, Elkton, and the Newark Post. Perryman has worked for APG Chesapeake’s papers in the Baltimore area.

Out is Cecil Whig Editor Jacob Owens who held the post since 2012. He also wrote many of the complex business and public policy stories for the Whig, which like most papers saw a sharp decline in staff.

Unfortunately, the powers that be at APG chose not to mention Owens and his solid efforts under difficult circumstances. Adams Publishing acquired a portion of Whig and Post owner American Consolidated Media a few years ago.

Adams brought a degree of stability to a company that was basically owned by lenders after the previous owner, an Australian radio station operator, turned over the keys. APG went on to acquire upwards of 100 papers around the country and installed new management in this region.

(Full disclosure: I worked at the Cecil Whig during the last six months of my newspaper career) and had the chance to see Jake’s skills up close).

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