Do Online Newspapers Make Money?

I ask because I no longer subscribe to my local newspapers…I read them online for free. I have noticed two things since doing this:

  1. I spend a lot less time reading newspapers…just the headlines and a few editorials
  2. I’ve noticed just how much crap makes it into print…you know, those slimelittle"human interest" stories, and the often poorly researched crap that passes for news.
    Now, the newspapers are bombarding me with offers for subscriptions…but I am perectly happy to read them for free…do newspapers actually MAKE money with their online versions? Or have they just succeeded in ramming another nail into their coffins?

Well, for one, they do still have the local editions and advertising (both online and in the paper - you won’t see an online newspaper without adverts) backing them up, and generally charge subscription fees for archived editions, which is more handy than you’d think. Additionally, they often offer premium content in some areas, and they do all this in a much more cost effective way, reaching an exponentially larger number of people with each print. This is one reason they are starting to get touchy about people linking to one article deep in the site. They would rather have the visitors have to go to their main page and click through.

Maybe you are happy with the free online content, but if you want video sources from CNN, a search through the archives of the LA Times, or some popular content in many other papers, you’re going to be paying a fee for it. I’d expect the advertising to stay, though not make them as much money as it once did.

In general…no. But newspapers are trying to find ways to make them work. Best guess is that some sort of small fee will become the standard.

Who knows? Online advertising might actually work in some hazy future that we can only guess at.

Normally, a newspaper makes far more money in advertisements than in actual subscriptions. No one seems to think it strange that television networks don’t charge their viewers for listening, even though it’s a lot more expensive to make television programs than to run a website. It’s true, however, that dotcom advertising is in a bit of a rut, and its future is currently in doubt. So it seems logical that online newspapers will start charging fees for their content.

Our paper lets you know what you get with your online paper that you don’t get with your paper version:

"How does the online Herald differ from the print version? contains a compilation of the articles and advertising appearing in the print edition and additional features. You’ll find updates of news, stocks and weather reports and more comics and puzzles. has many ads that have appeared in the last seven days, a searchable archive of recent articles and links to dozens of newspapers. You can even place a classified ad or subscribe to The Herald online."

That quote, of course, is from

The Wall Street Journal charges for its online edition and I believe that it does make money on it. As far as I know they are the only ones who are profitable, or close to it.