On guard, online.
Around the start of February, the Batesville Daily Guard began charging for online subscriptions--and it has not doomed the small paper. In fact, the paper, which had offered online content for free, made the switch during a broader drive to expand its subscription base and has added 200 online and 550 total new subscribers, said Pat Jones, the paper's general manager and co-owner.
The paper now has about 9,400 subscribers, she said.
Newspapers nationwide have engaged in an ongoing debate about how to distribute news online, because online advertising revenue has never amounted to more than a fraction of print advertising revenue.
The Daily Guard went online after many of the staffers realized they were competing with the print edition, Jones said. As co-owner of a rural paper, however, Jones realizes that charging for online content might not work for larger papers that face stiffer competition.
"It has worked well for us, but I don't think it would for everyone," she said.
The paper charges $7.50 monthly for online subscriptions, and most online subscribers are from outside the area and state, she said. A print subscription costs $9 if the subscriber lives in Batesville. The price goes up depending on how far from Independence County's seat the paper must be delivered.