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22/01/2009 - par Mark Tungate

One of the recurring themes of this column is the battle between traditional and digital media. Will newspapers cease to exist? Will TVs merge with computers? Will my Orange TV service ever work properly? Despite all these questions, it seems obvious that any magazine or newspaper must have a free website.

Or must it? Recently I stumbled across a small article in the International Herald Tribune about a tiny newspaper in the United States: the TriCity News of Monmouth, New Jersey. In the middle of an economic crisis, mass unemployment and the digital revolution, this little paper is highly profitable. Just before Christmas it published its biggest issue ever.

What is the secret of its success? Well, it's certainly not the internet. The TriCity News hates the internet. Not a single item from its pages has ever been placed online. Its home page simply tells you how much it costs to advertise in the newspaper. Editor Dan Jacobson told the IHT: «I don't understand how putting content on the Web would do anything but help destroy our paper. Why should we give our readers any incentive whatsoever to not look at our content along with our advertisements, a large number of which are beautiful and cheap full-page ads?»

In most cases, print products make money from advertising, while their websites struggle. We won't go back in time, but with their income falling, many publishers may now start limiting the amount of free content they place online.

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