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Weekly to delay web upload in new digital move

A weekly newspaper in Northumberland is to delay putting its stories online by three days in a bid to get readers to pay for a new digital edition.

The Hexham Courant has become the latest title to launch a paywall-protected digital edition using page-turning software.

It will be available for 55p a week for a year’s subscription, compared to 70p a week for the print edition.

In an attempt to encourage readers to buy it, or the paper, the Courant is to postpone its weekly upload of stories on its website from its publication date on Fridays to Mondays.

Courant editor Colin Tapping described the launch of the digital edition as a “red-letter-day” in the newspaper’s 146-year history.

“Thanks to the internet and technological advances in recent years, we can deliver the Courant anywhere in the world,” he said.

“We have postal subscribers to the Courant across Britain and across the globe, who look forward to getting the latest news from ‘back home’. Until now, they had to pay postage and wait for delivery.

“Now thanks to the digital version, they can read the Courant at exactly the same time as their friends and family in Tynedale – and at a fraction of the cost they are paying at the moment.”

New subscribers are also being offered a £10 voucher from Waitrose if they sign-up for a year.

The digital edition, powered by Pagesuite, can be accessed through the paper’s website


Web Man (13/09/2010 08:51:42)
What a stupid, stupid move by this newspaper.
Uploading stories to the web only once a week is bad enough. It should be done daily, several times a day.
But what’s really stupid is postponing its web uploads even further to try and encourage people to pay for the virtual edition. It just won’t happen. People won’t cough up, they’ll simply go elsewhere for their news.
This move goes completely against the grain of how newspapers should be using the internet.
Mark my words, in about three months times this ridiculous plan will be abandoned.

Colin Peel (13/09/2010 09:25:13)
Good on the Hexham Courant for trying something out. While the rest of the industry continue to make peanuts from digital and lost circulation as a result of instant uploads, at least the Courant is trying a different model. If it fails, what has it lost? Not a lot. If it succeeds, what has it gained? It take brave souls in a brave new internet world to make a difference.

Can’t Win (13/09/2010 10:18:43)
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!! The fact is, a paper like the Hexham Courant will get virtually all of its money and readers via its print product so giving it away for free online is commercial suicide. You have to treat each of these ventures on a case by case basis (something big companies aren’t generally willing to do) so it’s great that the Courant is trying something new. ‘Web Man’s’ comment would be perfectly valid if we were taking about a big city daily like the Birmingham Mail….but we’re not, so assess this one on its own merits please.

realword (13/09/2010 10:18:50)
It’s worth a try, surely.But the fact is that for the sort of low-key local news most weeklies produce (that’s their business after all like it or not news hot shots!) most people can’t even be bothered to turn a computer on to look at this sort of material.
Chances they will pay for it seem even slimmer but at least one paper’s having a crack at something different.
The local paper industry is in a very confused state over websites.
They know it’s never going to make money but can’t lose
face by dropping websites.
Meanwhile papers struggle for adequate reources.
Interesting times.

Hilary (13/09/2010 11:12:39)
I registered for the week’s trial and the software worked perfectly. However, it seems to me that the full edition, complete with ads, classified, motors etc, is only of interest to local people who can buy it in print; those of us exiles who want only the news on line to find out what’s going on at ‘home’ will just have to wait till Monday for it, I suppose. I think they hope they can eventually scrap the print edition altogether – but that won’t work for many years, not until everyone who likes to get their hands on a printed paper is fully computer-literate and equipped. We are a generation away from that yet. The Gloucester Citizen put its business supplement on line like that for free a few years ago, but the takeup was tiny and it was dropped (which was a pity, because the software worked much better than the in-house archive – much quicker for referring back when you were writing stories).
Meanwhile, it might help if the Hexham product was prettier. The layout is hideous and is particularly hard to read on screen. Steve Dyson please note!

Mike (13/09/2010 11:12:50)
Two points:
1 – I can’t see the point of publishing the stuff free two days later. People will wait for the news rather than buy it.
2 – why is the Courant putting the printed page up to the web? It is a completely unsuitable format. If you’re going to publish to the web, the content needs to be designed for the web.

Digi Dave (13/09/2010 11:18:27)
Looks good… Seems to be a good no. of regionals and nationals doing this well… would love to know what webman thinks should be done on the web, rather than complaining about what shouldnt?! Im sure he’s the same guy who doesnt rate mobile or social networking… get with the times!

Web Man’s Lover (13/09/2010 11:43:38)
Web Man, firstly, i find your name ironic. How is this a stupid move? Regional newspapers like this are the first of many to start branching out and offering a new format to those who may not want a traditional print copy. If you look in to the print industry you will find that those publishers who aren’t willing to take a step forward are the ones that are falling at the wayside. To say this goes against the grain of how newspapers should be using the internet is absolutely ridiculous, how should they be using the internet then? This is about readers who cannot get the print edition being able to view the paper, its not about up-to-the-minute news, that’s what their website is for, funnily enough under a header “LATEST NEWS” 😉

Peter Newlands (13/09/2010 12:00:55)
I think this is really nice idea. I’ve seen a web-newspaper before and it’s nice they’re giving their readers some additional choice. And what is web man talking about? Since when do you determine what another company choses what they should and shouldn’t do with their own business? If you don’t like it then don’t use it! I’m sure there are plenty of people like me who like to see some innovation going on.

fudgy (13/09/2010 13:00:24)
Page turning software is just wrong on every level. It’s a lazy way of getting a newspaper’s content online. Just design a good website! The design of the print product – especially a broadsheet – just doesn’t work online.

Hilary (13/09/2010 13:31:47)
Fudgy: There are still a lot of people out there – mostly over 50 – who like the look of the printed page and find it easier to read than a website with all its irritating links and the resultant wait, especially if you have a poor broadband link, for the next page to load. The idea is probably that you print off the pdfs at A3 size and have the newspaper at your fingertips. 70% of broadsheet is just about readable…

dave (14/09/2010 08:24:24)
How patronising to the over 50s. The over 50s are the ones who pioneered the microchip revolution in the 70s and 80s. All those trendy lecturers and liberal forward-thinkers are now in their 70s. Perhaps you meant the over 80s? Daft bat.

page flicker (14/09/2010 09:38:14)
I have been doing this for years! I have seen a tiny drop in print circulation, which may not even be related to the web based versions.
readers consider it a more environmentally friendly way of using newspapers and having the web uploads going ‘live’ later, means that the majority of our print sales have already been sold. The data I have shows that most print sales occur within 4 days after publication. With flash player installed readers can also view it on mobiles and MP3 players with too. Keep up with the times!
Embrace the web and all it has to offer, but don’t let your ‘traditional’ readers suffer either. Ipad is a success for a reason, but books will be around for a long time as people feel more engaged with paper. The two should work together to give readers a choice. It is a single product after all.

Hilary (the Daft Bat) (14/09/2010 10:58:50)
“The over 50s are the ones who pioneered the microchip revolution in the 70s and 80s”. Yeah – a few of them, and mostly in the States. On balance, perhaps I should have said the over-60s. While the few pioneers were inventing computers most of the rest were driving lorries and tractors, building houses, teaching kids to write, selling stuff in shops, nursing. Computers were something they read about; they weren’t taught computers in schools and brought up with them, like today’s young-to-middle-aged kids were. Moreover, a computer is expensive if you are a pensioner and they go out of date so fast it’s hard to keep up. This is why there are silver surfer classes all over the country… but a large proportion of us still prefer ink on paper. And there are more of us than any of you because we are the Baby Boomers!