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Denver Post CEO Mac Tully on new paywall, taking over from Dean Singleton

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More photos below.
We recently spoke with Dean Singleton about his decision to retire as MediaNews Group chairman and Denver Post publisher next month. Regarding the latter, Singleton said, "It's Mac's newspaper now."

Mac is Post CEO Mac Tully, Singleton's successor as publisher -- and the man charged with overseeing a just-announced metered paywall that will end unfettered free online access to the paper. This week, we chatted with Tully about the paywall and succeeding Singleton. Here's what he had to say.

The paywall move is being made by all of the newspapers (including the Post) owned by Digital First Media, the company that encompasses MediaNews Group. According to the paper, non-subscribers will be able to view "25 articles on the desktop website or 99 articles on mobile devices" without charge. But if they want to see more, it'll cost them $11.99 per month for a digital-only subscription, or a new customer rate of $5.50 per week for a print-and-digital subscription, with other packages available.

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John Paton.
Until recently, Digital First CEO John Paton had a reputation of being rigorously anti-paywall, and in a blog post about the new policy, he doesn't exactly sound like a true believer. He writes in part, "Let's be clear, paid digital subscriptions are not a long-term strategy. They don't transform anything; they tweak. At best, they are a short-term tactic. I have said that often enough in the past. But it's a tactic that will help us now."

As for Tully, former president and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, who took over as Post CEO around five months ago, he sounds considerably less conflicted about the approach.

"This has been an evolving discussion for a couple of years," he says. "As you know, there have been a number of different newspapers and newspaper organizations that have gone this route prior to us that we've obviously been watching with interest. Then, about six months ago, we began to have more earnest discussions around this -- so it's not something that just crept up. In fact, it's a discussion the newspaper industry should have probably looked at a lot harder over a decade ago."

When paywalls were brought up back then as a way to staunch the red ink flowing from the newspaper industry, plenty of observers responded with the horse-is-out-of-the-barn analogy -- i.e., customers who've grown accustomed to getting their online content for free won't be happy if they're suddenly asked to pay for it. Tully doesn't dismiss this take out of hand.

"You can certainly argue both sides of it," he acknowledges, "and I think there are valid arguments on both sides. But it's exciting for us, because it's an opportunity to really recognize the fact that we have Pulitzer Prize-winning content that's valuable and unique. And charging your print audience for it while giving it away for free online is a flawed strategy in my opinion.

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Another look at Mac Tully.
"I was out with an advertiser over five years ago," he continues, "and he made a comment that really resonated with me. He said, 'Mac, I know how valuable your print audience is, because they're willing to pay hundreds of dollars a year for something I can go online and get for free.' And that resonated, because we work so hard to create unique, valuable content that's valuable to readers, and yet we turn around and give it away online."

That's simplifying things, of course. The online content is supported by advertising -- but the rates for online ads are much lower than those for the physical newspaper. Paton's phrase for the phenomenon, repeated in his most recent post: "Print dollars are becoming digital dimes."

The paywall is intended to supplement those dimes. "We're going to create this content and produce it on the print side," Tully says, "but also on the web page and on our apps and all the different devices people access. And how people choose to access that information is really their choice, which is a really cool thing. They can choose the platform, they can choose where they consume it, and they can get all that for one price."

At the time of our conversation, Tully hadn't gotten a lot of external feedback about the paywall notion. But the reaction from employees has been mostly positive, he maintains.

Continue for more of our interview with Denver Post CEO Mac Tully.



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31 comments
Bradley Langston
Bradley Langston

They make their money by the ads they sell, not subcriptions.

Joedrinton
Joedrinton

Liberal media, liberal media, blah blah blah. Don't you fuckin moron right wing asshole losers have anything original ever to say?

Ski Steve
Ski Steve

If you're a writer at dp you should take a course on promoting your own blog because you'll be needing it once you're laid off. The Huffington post only needs so many hacks.

.McShyster.
.McShyster.

http://blogs.denverpost.com/editors/2013/11/20/yes-we-will-have-a-pot-editor/1378/

The Denver Post is attempting to milk a dead cow by appointing a know-nothing poseur to pimp the played-out pot scene in Colorado.

They're a day late and a dab short.

Funny how they completely rejected, shunned and denied the entire MMJ scene for the last 13 years, now they've decided to try and exploit some $$ from the pot "industry".

What next? ... Westword style adverts for WHORES and PIMPS posing as "escorts" and "massage parlors" ??

Virgil Dunn
Virgil Dunn

1950s are calling: they want their village idiots back.

Bill
Bill

Why does Westword devote so much bandwith to a nonentity such as the Post?

Tully said: "We gave all our employees the opportunity to ask questions."

 All three of them who haven't been affected by the layoffs?

The Post will be 6 feet under where it put the Rocky in three years. Polish those resumes.

yodownmuthalicka
yodownmuthalicka

With the low quality of content on the DP site, and the staff's incredible prowess in butchering grammar on a minute-by-minute basis, it's hard to imagine this move will produce a positive result.

Edward Casillas
Edward Casillas

I pay for a bunch of ads and little news. Its just about time to say hasta la vista Denver Post.

Fred Kaplan
Fred Kaplan

When watching the news on TV how many minutes of actual news do you receive? What is the depth of the news reporting? How many news stories are reported? Newspapers (whether on line or printed) should be able to provide greater insight into the issues. Now that is for those that read past the headlines or first paragraph before commenting. People will get the quality of news reporting and investigation that they will support with their advertising or other $$$$.

Chuck Tinsley
Chuck Tinsley

It's not the price, but the content that will kill it.

Suni Daze
Suni Daze

yeah .... not going to work .

Karl Chwe
Karl Chwe

It already has a unique and essential role in Denver, and if it produced great journalism, I would pay for it. So I don't know what I will do.

Karen Erickson
Karen Erickson

I'm pretty sure this will do it in - the news can be gotten from all kinds of places now for free.

John Svoboda
John Svoboda

There is hardly any local 'news' worth reporting on (unless you really are looking to bum yourself out with other people's drama) and I can find all the rehashed AP articles elsewhere on the net. Adios, DP...

David Costantino
David Costantino

I get why they're doing it, but it's not going to go over well with the general public. I predict their total subscription numbers will drop sharply soon after implementing this. Newspapers are dying, and this won't save them.

Jeff Thompson
Jeff Thompson

ok when your brewery is open can I come in and drink 25 beers before paying for one

Chad Schneidewind
Chad Schneidewind

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Aaron Harmon
Aaron Harmon

Who cares? I thought they were already gone. Oh well, soon enough. There's no place for obsolescence.

Daniel J. King IV
Daniel J. King IV

I HOPE IT SINKS Singleton & his 'Communist Rag' that SHOULD BE CALLED the 'Denver Pravda' !!!

Martin_Lewis
Martin_Lewis

"I know how valuable your print audience is, because they're willing to pay hundreds of dollars a year for something I can go online and get for free."

You know why I go online to read the news? Because the physical newspaper is an outmoded source of information for me. If people want to pay to have paper and ink delivered to their door step, more power to them. I'm not going to pay for pixels. 

stupidstuka
stupidstuka

Why pay for crap journalism when Wasteword delivers it for free?

.McShyster.
.McShyster.

@Bill

Tully said: "We gave all our employees the opportunity to ask questions."

... and then immediately dismissed and ignored all of them.



Joedrinton
Joedrinton

@Aaron Harmon You're another well-informed, enlightened citizen I see. Go back to your hole in the wall dump of a life and stay there

yodownmuthalicka
yodownmuthalicka

@Daniel J. King IV Way to not make yourself look 100% crazy!

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