The Chattanooga Times Free Press has announced that it will spend $4.4 million on iPads to help subscribers transition to a digital-only version for its newspaper. The only printed edition of the paper that will continue after the project is finished will be the Sunday version. The paper will spend an additional $1.7 million on training and marketing to make sure its customers can continue to enjoy the newspaper.
Starting Monday, the newspaper will begin converting daily print subscribers to a replica of the daily newspaper available on Apple’s iPad. The newspaper publisher has bought thousands of iPads to give to subscribers. The printing and delivery of a physical newspaper will cease by mid-2022, with the exception of the Sunday version of the paper.
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Times Free Press said that this move is necessary due to the economics of publishing in the US as newspapers continue to lose advertising revenue to Facebook and Google.
“If we didn’t do this, we wouldn’t be able to continue to publish the kind of paper we publish in Chattanooga,” Hussman said.
Subscribers who continue paying the current subscription of $34 a month will receive a new iPad so they can read a digital replica of the newspaper delivered by the Times Free Press app. The TFP has not said which iPad it will supply, but one can assume it will be the low-cost “iPad” over the iPad Air or iPad Pro.
The roll-out of the digital replica edition will be accompanied by personal training for subscribers who aren’t familiar with the iPad. The TFP will bring in additional customer service professionals to meet with subscribers one-on-one in their homes, community centers, hotel conference rooms. Its subscriber will be converted in phases and given advance notice when their conversion phase is coming up.
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