News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 14, 2014

Publisher: Mobile devices extend access

More people getting news via phone, tablets

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Those who read the electronic version of the Tribune-Star increasingly are using their smart phones and tablets instead of desktops, the newspaper’s publisher, B.J. Riley, told members of the Terre Haute Rotary Club on Tuesday.

The website, www.tribstar.com, averages about 1 million page views a month. Of those million reads, about 426,000 — just under half — are from smart phones and tablets.

“Every month, we see more and more migration from desktop to smart phone or tablet,” Riley said. “It’s kind of amazing to watch that transformation.”

On Christmas Day, as he surveyed website traffic, Riley saw that smart phone and tablet use “just shot way up,” likely because many people received new phones and tablets as gifts. “I wish Christmas was every day,” he said.

Those who read the paper at Tribstar.com have two options, he said. They can read the website just as it is laid out, but there is also an E-edition of the paper — a PDF version. Software enables readers to turn electronic pages and view stories and ads through full pages as they appear in print.

At the Tribune-Star, similar to what is happening at most newspapers, circulation has been coming down,  but readership has been rising, Riley said.

The circulation of the newspaper is about 25,000. “We deliver the newspaper to 25,000 households each day in our market,” he explained to Rotarians. But Riley also noted that, on average, about 2.6 people read each individual newspaper, which takes it up to about 65,000 readers per day.

The website has about 11,500 unique visitors each day, which boosts readership even higher.

The publisher also talked about the Tribune-Star’s transition in August to what it calls “Total Access,” in which print subscribers also became digital subscribers.

People can subscribe to Total Access, which includes electronic and print version, or just digital access.

The Tribune-Star uses what is called a “metered” model, which means that nonsubscribers get limited access to electronic stories on the website during a month — six stories on a desktop and 20 on a smart phone or tablet, although that number will come down at some point, he said.

“We still are accessible to people doing research about Terre Haute” who are not subscribers, he said.

Under Total Access, each print subscriber also subscribes electronically — it’s a matter of activating digital access by using an email address and password.

With the new Total Access, the cost to subscribers did increase a nominal amount.

“We believe we’re worth it,” he said. “As a news organization, we do have to spend money to collect news.”

He noted that during last week’s snowstorm, when delivery of the print edition became difficult and even dangerous for carriers, the Tribune-Star temporarily opened its electronic edition of the newspaper free to everyone.

Riley also talked about the role of the newspaper and its emphasis on local news, government and political happenings; support for nonprofits; and focus on the editorial page.

“We do take our role with that [editorial] page very seriously,” said Riley, who’s been the newspaper publisher for nearly five years.

The Tribune-Star recognizes that not everyone will agree with its stand on issues, he said. Editorial writers do hope to provoke thought on the part of readers that, in turn, prompts those readers to express their opinion to elected officials — or maybe even cast a ballot at election time.

Riley told his noontime audience that the newspaper has more than 110 carriers who drive more than 4,500 miles per day to deliver the print edition.

Also, the Tribune-Star — which is privately owned by Community Newspapers Holdings Inc. — has 115 employees at downtown and production facilities.

The production facility prints four daily newspapers, all part of CNHI — the Tribune-Star, as well as newspapers from Washington, Ind., and the Illinois cities of Danville and Effingham.