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MediaNews Memo Continues Online Pay Content Discussion

medianews group.pngYesterday, Romanesko published a memo by executives from national newspaper publisher MediaNews Group. The memo outlined the company’s new interactive strategy, as devised by 22 MediaNews execs. Like many other newspaper companies, MediaNews is facing a decline in print circulation and interactive revenue growth, so its leaders have been trying to find a good solution.

The strategy outlined in the memo — don’t put all print content online for free, create distinct Web sites that will emphasize regional news and build local sites to draw user generated content, younger audiences and targeted advertisers — has been criticized by Jeff Jarvis for lacking innovation and creativity. But paidContent.org, which also pointed out this is a similar strategy sought by companies like Gannett, said MediaNews’ plan “could help maintain newspapers’ fairly strong audience growth.”

We agree that putting all print content online for free undermines the value of journalism and undoubtedly has contributed to the decline in print circulation nationwide. Media companies will not be able to survive this recession until they find a way to make money from their Web properties, but finding the right solution may take some time — time the faltering industry doesn’t really have. Maybe MediaNews’ strategy won’t work, but they do get credit for trying.

How do you feel about paying for content online? WSJ.com is doing it well, and dreaming up new ways to get online revenue every day (micro-payments anyone?) What do you think publishers have to do in order to keep the newspaper industry alive?

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