Editor Nancy Barnes told readers in a column that investigative projects, “deeply reported” non-breaking news stories, and “beautifully written” feature stories will become “print exclusives.” The Star Tribune, meanwhile, has asked the Associated Press not to distribute this content to other AP subscribers. At the same time, the Star Tribune will continue to post all breaking news immediately online.
Similar in thought process to what the Philadelphia Inquirer began in August 2008, this is an intelligent way to look at value propositions. The Star Tribune is merely flowing its best content to the audience that generates the most revenue and the audience of highest interest to advertisers – which pays the bills for everything else.
This is precisely the kind of conversations being had in the magazine, book, and movie industries. The magazine industry has long been reticent about putting everything online. The book industry believes college textbooks will go the way of the e-reader while print will continue to be the medium for long-form writing. And the movie industry continues to invest heavily in platform experiences (multiplexes, high-def DVDs) while preserving the revenue-generating platforms: theaters, video, pay TV, and so on.
All of these experiments are grand attempts to align a pretty good content engine with the evolving ways to make money from that content. I don’t know what the Star Tribune move contributes to that conversation, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.