Media properties go digital to revive afternoon dailies

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently relaunched the afternoon daily newspaper, The Pittsburgh Press, as an online edition.

In the news
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently relaunched the afternoon daily newspaper, The Pittsburgh Press, as an online edition. Meanwhile, the Orange County Register rolled out an afternoon tablet edition of its paper.

Why does it matter?
An integral part of the media mix two decades ago, many question afternoon dailies' relevance in a 24/7 news cycle.

Allan Block, president of Block Communications, owner of the Post-Gazette and other media properties in the area, says the Press will focus on stories breaking in the later part of the news cycle, along with some lifestyle, opinion, and sports.

"Basically, this is free to print-edition subscribers and Post- Gazette e-edition subscribers," he adds. "We will offer this as a value-add and Post-Gazette print subscribers will probably be most of the audience."

Block stresses the goal of the Press launch is to enhance the Post-Gazette's print edition, not replace it.

"We don't believe in digital first," he explains. "We believe in stabilizing the print edition first and then rolling out new digital revenue streams. If all a newspaper does is roll out new digital revenue streams, it will have a cancer-like effect that will put the main part of the business - the print edition - out of business faster."

Given the number of online/tablet news outlets, the rebirth of afternoon dailies as e-publications won't likely lead to huge PR tactic changes, though Tony Bucci, chairman of integrated firm Marc USA, says it will provide one more pitch outlet. "If you have something breaking that morning or if time is an issue for a client," he adds, "it will be a good way to get it out."

Key facts
1. As recently as 1999, afternoon dailies outnumbered morning papers in the US, 760 to 736, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

2. The Pittsburgh Press had the largest circulation of all dailies in the city, 209,000, when the Post-Gazette bought it in 1992 and it closed amid a labor strike.

3. The Orange County Register's afternoon edition, The Peel, is delivered at 6pm Monday through Saturday to coincide with peak usage of tablet devices.

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