Inquirer, Daily News to launch separate websites in split from Philly.com

Big changes are coming to Philadelphia’s biggest news outlet.  Early next year, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News will get their own online homes.  It’s just the latest sweeping change for the people behind the competing papers with one owner.  After living together on Philly.com, the papers are going their separate ways.

Mark Block, vice president of external relations for the parent company, Interstate General Media, says subscribers want an easier way to find stories online for the two papers.

“We’re excited in the early part of 2013 to respond to readers and advertisers who have been very interested in seeing more exclusive content — easily accessible — of both the Inquirer and Daily News topics, stories, columns and various personalities.  These two websites will provide that opportunity.”

Block says the content likely will be hidden behind a paywall.  Details are still being hammered out, including whether newspaper subscribers would get online access to the two new sites at no extra charge.  But Block says starting in January, The Inquirer and Daily News digital editions, which are replica versions of the print publications, will be made available at no charge to print subscribers.

The move follows the trend of some other metropolitan papers, such as the Boston Globe and Houston Chronicle, according to Rick Edmonds is the media business analyst at the Poynter Institute.  Of course this paywall tale has a twist since it involves two papers and separate websites.  

Some newspaper chains are offering stories for free, says Edmonds, hoping that they can build enough Web traffic to boost online ad sales.  Others are trying to persuade traditional readers to look online, publishing actual papers only a few days a week.

There’s yet another experiment playing out.  “There’s a new buyer at the Orange County Register who’s decided he’s going to emphasis print and reinvest in the newsroom and hope to sell more subscriptions and more print ads and give digital a rest,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds says most papers are pursuing new revenue streams such as hosting sponsored special events, and offering social media marketing services to area businesses.

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