A new memo from Steven Swartz, the president of Hearst Newspapers, outlines some significant changes in store for the chain. For one, it's going to start charging for some Web content --- although it seems local management will determine where to draw the line between free and premium material.
There is a belief that this firewall will effectively drive up ad rates. Lower traffic will mean fewer available spots for advertising, which in turn will create some scarcity, which should yield more demand and better fees.
Hearst plans to increase its Web staffing, offer self-serve advertising for small businesses, provide access to third-party printing and ad platforms, and develop electronic readers for its content.
Swartz's memo to staff comes in the middle of the chain's 100-day initiative to rework its operations. Earlier this week, Cablevision announced that its subsidiary Newsday would be discontinuing its free service online and shifting its content into a local news site under its cable operation for subscribers.