Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The future of newspapers?

It's starting. My mother just received the following e-mail from The Detroit Free Press, and I imagine other major papers, including our embattled Seattle Times, will hatch similar plans (emphasis mine throughout):

I wanted to alert you, as one of our best customers, to ground-breaking changes at The Detroit Free Press. They've been announced on freep.com, and other media have covered the news as well, but you might not be aware yet.

In early Spring, the Free Press will change from offering seven days' home delivery to offering three days -- Thursday, Friday and Sunday. We now also offer a digital subscription on freep.com so you have the option of seeing the newspaper pages online exactly as they appear in print.

And you will still be able to purchase the Free Press any day at stores, newsstands and newspapers racks -- that won't change. We will maintain our strong news report, and we will redesign the newspaper to provide an easier-to-use format -- as well as retaining the exclusive reporting and depth that we're known for.

We are not taking our changes in delivery lightly. We've spent many months developing our plans, which are unique in the country. As many other newspapers cut their news-gathering operations drastically, we remain committed to the kind of strong news report that Detroit and Michigan deserve.

We take these steps for two reasons:

First, the newspaper industry must completely transform its way of doing business in order to survive. With generations of readers and advertisers using digital media more and more, we simply cannot continue to bear the cost of delivering the ink-on-paper newspaper every day.

Second, we need to invest in new ways to deliver information digitally, whether on our Web site or on the mobile devices so many people carry now. The changes we're announcing will enable us to do that. We need to move even more rapidly into the digital age.

As editor of the Free Press, I promise you this: Not only will we continue to provide a strong, contemporary news report in print and digital formats, we'll enhance our live updates and multi-media information on freep.com.

We'll stay in touch with you on when the delivery changes will be implemented. For updates and discussion, you can go to
freep.com/transform. You can also look for updates in the Free Press and freep.com.

I want to personally ask you for your understanding as we make these changes, and I thank you for reading the Free Press.

Sincerely, Paul Anger
Editor and Vice President
Detroit Free Press and freep.com

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