Changes driven by our digital future; Revamped website, other upgrades linked to subscriptions - The Buffalo News

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Changes driven by our digital future; Revamped website, other upgrades linked to subscriptions

Some of you like to hold the printed newspaper in your hands and turn every page. Others wouldn't dream of it -- they want to see news stories on their smartphones or computers or iPads. Some like to do it all.

Here at The Buffalo News, we're well aware of the changes taking place in how our readers want to receive information.

We're also aware that the economics of the news business have declined dramatically -- so much so that some cities are watching in dismay as their newspapers plan to produce a printed paper only three times a week. Many papers have laid off huge portions of their news staffs, cutting deeply into the quality of their journalism.

And we're acutely aware that the kind of top-flight reporting we pride ourselves on -- deep local coverage of communities, sports and the arts from the largest news staff in upstate New York -- costs money. Having full-time staff reporters in Washington, Albany, City Hall and in the federal and county courts does, too.

Trusted, credible and enterprising news gathering by 140 professional journalists doesn't come cheap, nor should it.

All of this is in the background today as we announce some major changes.

Here is what's coming:

*We will be offering digital subscriptions for the first time this fall. For all of our print subscribers, those digital subscriptions will be included at no additional cost -- even if you only get the paper delivered on Sunday.

*In late summer, we will unveil a revamped website, along with -- for the first time -- a tablet application designed for iPads and Kindle Fire. We'll also have a dramatically improved smartphone application and an "e-edition" that is an exact replica of the newspaper, page by page.

*The digital offerings will be easier to search and navigate, and will include more video, more photo galleries and more features such as our new NFL blog led by Tim Graham.

*All of those new platforms will be covered by the single digital subscription. We want you to be able to choose how you get the news and information you need.

*If you don't have a print subscription, you'll be able to buy a digital subscription for $2.49 a week. (Even without a digital subscription, everyone will have free access to some content: 10 stories a month on the website, as well as all of our breaking news, our home page, classified advertising, including death notices, and more.)

*We are keeping the newsstand price of the daily paper at 75 cents, although many papers have moved to $1. The Sunday paper's newsstand price will increase by 50 cents to $2.50 in July -- the first such increase in 16 years. This won't affect the price that current home-delivery subscribers pay.

*Perhaps most notably, you can subscribe to get home delivery of the Sunday paper, plus a digital subscription, for $1.99. In other words, it will actually cost less to get the digital subscription with Sunday delivery than without it. It's a moderate price for a lot of value.

So why are we doing all of this?

In making these changes, The News is trying to make sure we're around for a very long time. We're trying, in business parlance, to create a sustainable business model. The News is profitable now and, thanks to our owner and chairman, Warren Buffett, free of the debt that has crippled so many other newspaper companies.

But our profit is far less than it was in previous years. We need to reposition ourselves to be economically stable in the future.

As the world becomes more digitally focused, we must respond. But we also understand that many readers depend on the daily printed newspaper. We're committed to that, as well, and to continuing the labor-intensive, enterprising journalism our community deserves.

In whatever form, The News is a unique and vital part of Western New York -- a government watchdog, a village square for conversation, a place to learn, to be entertained and to become an informed and engaged citizen.

We take those roles and responsibilities seriously. We want to continue to be your go-to source for quality journalism and dependable information.

These moves are a key part of our strategy for doing just that.

email: editor@buffnews.com

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