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Last month I wrote that an increase in the number of American publishers charging for online content could be driving readers back to print and paper. Well now a case study has emerged of a US publisher taking a more back to basics approach to growing local paper sales.
First time newspaper owner Aaron Kushner is bucking a global trend and investing heavily to increase print sales of the Orange County Register, the 20th largest US newspaper by circulation, which he bought in July.
At a time when driving down costs by chopping content and trimming staff resource has widely been a feature of the local press, Mr Kushner has increased the size of the papers’ staff by 50% and employed 100 new journalists.
He believes people will pay for high quality news, and plans to add 40% more pages by March. There will be a focus on investigative journalism and five times the number of community news pages. He is printing on better quality paper and using more colours to produce better quality images.
RN readers have long suspected that it is the content rather the medium that is contributing to falling local newspaper sales.
If the quality of local papers has fallen, they are surely relying on reader loyalty to absorb price rises. But if they don’t contain relevant local content, what is the incentive to buy them?
The industry will no doubt be watching the Orange County Register closely. And retailers around the world will be hoping that more newspaper publishers follow suit and give readers more news that is more relevant to them.
Loyalty must have its rewards.
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