November 19, 2013 Last Updated 4:50 pm

Digital First Media announces paywalls as company remains desperate for revenue

CEO John Paton says the company needs “more gas in the tank” so up go the paywalls

The newspaper company that says it is digital first, but more often than not lags behind other newspaper chains in their mobile and tablet publishing initiatives, Digital First Media, has announced that it will be putting its newspaper websites behind paywalls.

The newspapers will start to launch their paywalls starting this week at The Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minnesota. Others will receive the paywall treatment through January of next year.

John Paton, CEO, put the blame on high inherited costs.

“It’s a journey made all the more difficult when you carry the extra tonnage of newspaper companies whose cost structures were more than a century in the making and now need to be radically rebuilt – by yesterday,” wrote Paton on his company blog.

“Marketing dollars in all forms are moving into digital. With a foot in both the past and future, companies like Digital First Media have to manage the decline of one medium while building for – and in some cases, waiting for – the new revenue streams to grow,” Paton wrote.

But Digital First Media, which includes the Journal Register Company, a chain that has declared bankruptcy twice in the past three and a half years, is the least innovative of the big newspaper chains in its digital publishing efforts. The company has outsourced its mobile and tablet editions, while playing up its newsroom initiatives. Meanwhile, the newspaper websites are dreadful.

Now, though, the company needs more cash… again.

“But we need more gas in the tank if we are going to complete this journey of print-to-digital transformation,” wrote Paton.

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