In a move sure to please opponents of news site paywalls, The McClatchy Company has come out in favor of keeping an ad-supported online model.
Speaking at the Local Online Advertising Conference, McClatchy Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt said that he did not support a paywall model for McClatchy’s papers’ online editions. In addition, he predicts that online advertising revenues will continue to grow as newspapers continue to shift towards a digital-centric business model.
“The percent of internet-only ad dollars will grow because of self-serve vehicles and classifieds. We don’t need it to be 50/50 for us to have the same cash flow. Digital has a higher profit margin because of the lower costs from not having to print and distribute it compared to print,” Pruitt said.
In light of recent news from the New York Times and other newspapers about paywalling their online editions, this is a welcome announcement. However, given Newsday’s experience with paywalls, it’s looking like it could be a savvy business decision, too. While McClatchy isn’t the largest newspaper company in the US, they do have a strong following with their local papers (including my own hometown paper, The Sacramento Bee).
Interestingly, though, Pruitt’s main point in his speech was about innovation as a means of survival. Pruitt said, “We don’t need to be the strongest to survive, we just need to be able to adapt, and that’s something we’ve proven we can do.” Perhaps by bucking this industry trend, they’ll ensure their survival.
DISCLOSURE: The author went to school with Pruitt’s daughter.