The Providence Journal to Post Excerpts Only on Web Site

The Providence Journal will test out an interesting tactic in the “war” between print and online, using its Web site to try to drive readers to purchase the print edition by posting only excerpts of stories on the site, Ted Nesi reported on his WPRI blog.

The newspaper’s original, more conventional plan was to implement a pay wall for local stories, but in a memo to staff from publisher Howard Sutton, obtained by David Scharfenberg of The Providence Phoenix, “ will remain a free Web site that emphasizes most of the content that our online audiences value highly. Meanwhile, we will be more discriminating and deliberate in how we disseminate our premium newspaper content.”

ProJo reporter John Hill, head of the Providence Newspaper Guild, confirmed the excerpts plan to Scharfenberg, saying the goal was to provide online readers with quick updates while hoping readers interested in the full stories will buy the hard copy.

Sutton’s memo also mentioned that The Providence Journal will launch apps next summer for the iPad, the iPhone, and other mobile devices, using The New York TimesPress Engine technology.

Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy told Nesi:

The Journal is sacrificing its Web site in order to bolster its print edition, which is where it makes most of its money. I understand why Journal managers are doing this, but it’s a short-term solution that could prove harmful in the long term. I also wonder whether it will even accomplish anything. Newspaper readers are skimmers, and a headline and brief synopsis of a story may be all that they want.