Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nashville | Here's Hudler's pitch to her own team: 'many' readers like paywall; now, what about you?

In a new memo about the paper's paywall, Tennessean Publisher Carol Hudler is selling online subscriptions to a group she knows well: her own employees.

The paywall goes up tomorrow, as Nashville becomes the latest Gannett paper to start charging for digital access. Hudler's memo reminds employees about that deadline -- and then makes her pitch:

"If you do not currently subscribe, I hope you take this opportunity to do so now, so you can enjoy all that a full access subscription to the Tennessean has to offer," she writes. "At the employee discounted rate, it is hard to envision a reason NOT to subscribe."

Lots of readers already know they'll soon have to pay for access they've gotten free for more than a decade. But they're happy to do so, according to Hudler.

"We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from readers," she says, "many of whom have said 'it’s about time you invested in content and charged for it.'"

Hudler's memo

As we discussed in our recent company-wide meeting about our new paid content model, this week we will begin metering digital access to and introducing our new tablet version and native apps, which all will be available to our subscribers, along with the exact digital replica of the print edition. We launched our tablet version at midnight last night.

Our new “Taste,” “Family” and “The Ticket” sections have received positive feedback. Subscribers will see new and improved digital destination pages on some of their favorite passions. And we will continue to roll out content improvements, including our new “Style” section Saturday and “Portfolio” section Sunday.

Our new subscription choices and their prices take effect June 1. Even with this increase, the price of a full access subscription, from print to the complete array of digital media, remains a great value. As an employee, you will continue to get a 50% discount to your full access subscription. To access your digital content, subscribers will need to ACTIVATE the digital part of their subscription, so go to to complete a few easy steps and get started now.

If you do not currently subscribe, I hope you take this opportunity to do so now, so you can enjoy all that a full access subscription to the Tennessean has to offer. A 7-day print, full access subscription will cost you $12.50/month. With a Sunday/Wed plus 7-day digital access subscription priced as low as $7.50 per month at the employee discounted rate, it is hard to envision a reason NOT to subscribe.

Regarding customer feedback, we have heard from a number of long-term, print-centric subscribers who didn’t understand their notice letter or feared that our changes were somehow signaling a planned elimination of print delivery. But also we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from readers, many of whom have said “it’s about time you invested in content and charged for it.”

A special thank you to so many of our employees who have been working extra hard to make this transition successful. It’s exciting.

Carol Hudler
President & Publisher, South Group President
The Tennessean Media Group, A Gannett Company
1100 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203


  1. Hudler fails to mention the least-expensive option: digital-only access.

    For the general public, that costs $12 a month. Assuming the employee discount applies, that would be $6 monthly for staff.

    At that price, it seems to me Hudler could just give employees digital access for free.

  2. Wow, I'm disappointed to hear that Carol is actually buying the crap they're feeding her. It's pretty pathetic when you have to beg your employees to buy a product they produce. I know I'm going to cancel my subscription when the prices get raised because our TV station has more up-to-date news on their website than the paper does.

  3. " is hard to envision a reason NOT to subscribe."

    I can think of seven off the top of my head, so clearly I have more vision than her:
    1) Smaller paychecks, while the Cost of Living shot up (gas...HEL-LO?)
    2) Fewer journalists' content to post online than when it was free.
    3) Those pitched-to journalists that remain (sorry, all you 50-somethings, your busy filling out forms anyway) having to do the work of 4-5 former co-workers.
    4) Poorly-designed viewer interface.
    5) Get it for free from any of the 3-4 local TV station's websites,, Nashville Business Journal's website or
    6) Google News (also FREE) and (my favorite):
    7) It might be on gannettblog first anyway!

  4. Her bonus is tied to digital subscribers. Still, the chutzpah is remarkable.

  5. To publish on, an employee must have a user name and password, correct?
    So, in effect, can't the newsroom see everything on there without paying for it anyway?

  6. 7:39: Perfect comment. How pathetic of her.

  7. Native apps? Print-centric? Did this 'editor' graduate valedictorian of Management Claptrap 101? Her employees and readers can read all they want for free by setting the browser as In Private. Takes you right around the paywall. And if we are to actually believe that readers are happy to pay more for the product, there must be a bridge for sale somewhere.

  8. When Cincinnati paywall rises, will the "proofreading" english teacher get the employee discount too?

  9. When the paywall rises, will the writers stop making stupid mistakes that they then try to blame on editors?

  10. I heard Lansing got 70,000 people to sign up for its $12 / month digital subscription. That would be $840,000 / month. Can anyone confirm that?

  11. It's sad that The Tennessean is trying to hide the paywall for the average person online. When you click on an article, a small tab at the bottom lefthand side of the screen appears (open). The best part about it is, you can start private browsing on firefox or IE and read unlimited stories with no 20 article limit. Continue to enjoy your "free" paper.

  12. 12:56 That would be wonderful if true. But Lansing's daily print circulation is only 41,000, so your figure sounds awfully high.

  13. I'm willing to bet that she has no idea what a native app is.

  14. 8:50 What is a native app, anyway?

  15. A native app is a small program that runs on a specific web device, usually a smart phone or tablet. They're tailored to individual operating systems. A native app for an iPhone won't run on an Android tablet or phone. Vendors wanting to capture many markets have to simultaneously develop and market native apps for different platforms. Worth reading:

    Personally I think that the future is in web apps, particularly as I see the trend toward "cloud computing." But then, what do I know? :-)

  16. Folks that took the EROP continue to get the employee discount on their newspaper subscriptions. That is supposed to continue after the year is up, we'll see.

  17. How many sites are telling employees to pay for a subscription? I'm at a small daily and we were all given the same account log in. I use it at the office and at home.

  18. I cannot imagine PAYING for the privilege of going online at home to check my copy for editing errors or updates. Surely user name and password I use at work will also give me access from my home computer. Or are they so draconian as to try and restrict home access.

  19. Like fuck would I pay for an online subscription for my site. That means I would have to pay to do my job, which is to scour other Gannett websites for news we can use? That's insane.


  20. "But we've received a lot of positive feedback from readers, many of whom have said it's about time you invested in content and charged for it."

    That has to be at least the fourth publisher memo or letter I have read that says the same thing. Did Gannett publishers get a script as they go to paywalls?

  21. They know where you live. You better order it or face the consequences, kiddo.

  22. Well no shit, it's about time we invested in content. But we're not going to.


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