Daily Voice to Add Paid Print Weeklies to Digital News Sites

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daily_voiceDaily Voice is going back to the future in its affluent but hotly competitive markets in the suburban Westchester and Fairfield counties, north of New York City.

The 41-site hyperlocal network will begin publication of two paid print weeklies in those two markets on March 13. The pre-publication price of the weekly is $75 a year. Post-publication, the price will rise to $125 yearly.

“Our weekly newspapers will make the best of Daily Voice available to readers who don’t access our sites daily,” Daily Voice CEO Carll Tucker said in an announcement published on his papers’ websites. “With 41 sites in Westchester and Fairfield, we produce 800 stories a week about our communities. The best five percent of those stories will create two terrific weekly newspapers.”

This so-called “reverse publication” is done by daily newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and Denver Post that launched free community-based news sites, but their print weeklies are free – either as part of their daily paper or available by request. Some pure-play digital news sites also publish print weeklies, but they’re free too. These print weeklies depend 100% on ads for revenue, which, despite print’s decline in the digital era of news media, still yield a much higher CPM than digital ads.

Daily Voice’s print weeklies won’t carry ads initially, Tucker said, because they are likely to have small circulations tied to the number of subscriptions sold. Tucker’s longer-term goal – after about a year of publication – is to capture a good portion of the $1.5 million in legal ads that local governments in Westchester and Fairfield counties spend on required public notices about various actions they take.

Tucker says each copy of his print weeklies will cost about $30 a year to produce, with most of that cost being printing and second-class mailing. If Daily Voice sells, say, 5,000 subscriptions at an average of $100 a year – factoring in the pre- and post-publication prices – the profit could be several hundred thousand dollars even without any legal ads.

“There’s a huge upside, and no downside,” Tucker told Street Fight. “It will be profitable from day one.”

Daily Voice has climbed back from its “near-death” in March 2013 by closing its 11 community websites in Central Massachusetts, cutting overall company costs and raising ad revenues, but it is still running a stubborn, deficit on its corporate side of close to $1.5 million.

Daily Voice has strong competition in Westchester County in New York State and Fairfield County in Connecticut. Gannett publishes its print daily Journal News in Westchester and also parses news from the paper into community sites in the that market. AOL’s Patch has a network of digital community sites in both Westchester and Fairfield, and is preserving those sites as it closes or plans to sell off sites in other markets that aren’t doing as well financially.

With Daily Voice’s print weeklies, CEO and founder Tucker will be returning to his publishing roots. His Tucker Communications published nine weeklies in Westchester, Fairfield and neighboring Putnam counties until he sold the group to Gannett in 1999. Tucker’s father founded the original paper in the group, the Patent Trader, which served northern Westchester. Gannett later absorbed those weeklies into its daily print and digital Journal News.

Tom GrubisichTom Grubisich (@TomGrubisich) writes “The New News” column for Street Fight. He is editorial director of the in-development hyperlocal news network Local America that will rate communities on their performance across a broad spectrum of livability. He will present the site’s new demo on Charleston, S.C., at the DIG SOUTH 2014 interactive festival in Charleston on April 9-13, 2014.