This week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution launched a new subscriber-only website, MyAJC.com.
Banners and articles on the paper’s traditional site, AJC.com, explain the new URL will be for “premium content.” Summaries, entertainment news and social media interactions will still be available through the paper’s AJC.com site.
Amy Glennon, the publisher of the AJC, said the move is designed to offer a more “newspaper like” experience for internet readers, while acknowledging the costs associated with traditional print journalism.
“At its core, we know that the content we produce has value, but it also has a cost and to be able to continue to do the kind of work we want to do at the caliber that we are doing it, this is a model that makes sense,” explained Glennon.
She said offering a more in depth online paper will allow the AJC to provide better coverage, especially to those who can no longer get the print edition. The AJC started pulling back statewide distribution in 2007.
“It may not arrive on a truck… at your doorstep, but it arrives on your tablet and it arrives on your desktop and assures people that they are getting the full newspaper content and then some,” said Glennon. “So, we feel good about being able to offer that again statewide and beyond.”
Right now, the paper is offering a free trial of MyAJC.com through May 15 to ease the transition.
When the paywall goes up, the AJC will join a long line of newspapers across the country and the state to change their business model.
“Different companies are experimenting in different ways,” said John Greenman, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia.
Greenman recalled at least one company that reduced their print editions to just the three days a week when the volume of advertising inserts is the highest.
“The New York Times has what they call a ‘metered system’ or ‘measured system’ that you can look at so much of the content free and then you have to pay,” added Greenman. “[There are] different experiments at different places and everybody is watching carefully.”
Media companies are looking for the next best business practices in a time when advertising revenues are declining and there is increased competition in the news market.
Greenman said “metro” newspapers like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have been the most susceptible to the changing market. Companies in large cities face the most competition, while smaller places like Savannah and Macon are somewhat insulated.
Both the Macon Telegraph and the Savannah Morning News, however, already require subscriptions for some of their online content.
“Anyone who says she or he is an expert on this doesn’t know what they’re talking about. All we know for sure is that the business model for news is in rapid decline and everyone is experimenting and innovating and taking risks to find a replacement,” Greenman asserted.
MyAJC.com is the result of more than a year of work, including consumer research, but Glennon said the site will be an ongoing project.
“I don’t think there’s ever just one solution. I think we are learning and will evolve with this,” Glennon said. “I don’t think you’ll find anyone in any kind of news business now who would say you develop a product and it’s finished. It is always evolving and changing with the needs of the audience.”