Despite an unfriendly economy and changes in reader and advertiser behavior, most weekly publishers are bullish on the future of community newspapers. In a recent survey, 72 percent expressed optimism about the future of newspapers. And while they see some promise in digital revenue, they believe print will play an enduring role: Two-thirds don’t envision a time when they’ll no longer produce a print edition.
While weekly papers haven’t moved as quickly as the dailies into creating mobile phone and tablet apps, they have kept pace with smaller dailies in the adoption of paid online models.
The survey of publishers shows that 42 percent of non-daily newspapers now charge users for digital content. A similar study last April showed that 46 percent of publishers of dailies under 25,000 circulation require payment for at least some of their online content. Of weekly newspapers that don’t now charge, one quarter of their publishers say they plan to launch a paid program in the next 12 months; another 48 percent say they may begin charging after that.