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Newspaper Goes With 'Print-Only' Approach -- For Now

Aug 5, 2016

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

These words from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities could sum up the state of many media companies today. There's no shortage of news or people seeking out information. But newspapers and book publishers are both struggling to survive in our increasingly digital media landscape.

There is an occasional exception. This weekend, the New York Times is publishing a 16,000-word excerpt of a new novel called The Underground Railroad. This piece of historical fiction by Colson Whitehead will show up in The New York Times Weekend magazine. It will not be published online.

“The Times is trying to provide an exclusive experience for their newspaper subscribers, the people that actually get that paper thrown onto their doorstep, at least on Sundays,” said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. “They want to give people a reason to buy that paper.”

What they chose to share, an excerpt from a novel, is a non-essential piece of news, McBride said. Online readers would be upset if they shared something digital subscribers have come to expect – such as a feature story.