Monday, December 22, 2008

Insiders: Shift to online publishing by Detroit papers risky

The cost-savings decision to limit home delivery of Detroit's two daily newspapers while expanding online offerings beginning in 2009 has drawn skepticism and dire predictions by industry observers and those who rely on the publications for coverage and advertising.

The Detroit News, with an older readership less likely to turn to the Internet for daily local news, could lose 50,000 to 100,000 subscribers, said Ben Burns, director of the journalism program at Wayne State University since 1993 and a former executive editor at The News.

The newspaper has about 180,000 subscribers now.

“You could say they've written off older, noncomputer-literate folks as a market. Maybe that's smart business, but it strikes me as perilously close to violating public-service obligations of a newspaper,” he said.

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