The Metro section being viewed in the Washington Post's online feature, "Today's paper"
One of the coolest features on any newspaper website in the country is the Washington Post’s “Today’s paper” newspaper viewer.
The Newseum, a museum in Washington, D.C., has a “front-page gallery” showing the day’s front page from hundreds of newspapers from around the nation and world.
You can compare a newspaper in rural Alabama to one in London or Saudi Arabia.
But an ongoing annoyance of mine has been that you can’t see inside these papers. You can’t see the sports section headlines. You can’t sift through the paper in Alabama and see what it considers newsworthy, compared to the Saudi paper.
The Washington Post is one of the few papers in the country that lets you look inside their entire paper.
With their “Today’s paper” feature, you can look through every page of every section, going back a full week.
What’s more, every element of every page–from photographs to advertisements–is clickable. When you click an article, the pictures and captions pop up along with the full, readable text of the article.
Stars and Stripes, the independent newspaper of the US Military, is one of the few papers to offer a free full-featured online edition of their paper.
Better online newspaper-reading programs exist, and lots of papers use them, but they nearly all charge for access to these “E-editions” or “digital editions.”
The editions have better features than the Post’s “Today’s paper.” The pages flip easily, you can zoom in, watch videos–the Miami Herald’s “Digital Newspaper” even displays articles in Spanish.
(The Post actually offers a full-featured, “e-replica” to subscribers.)
Who’s using them?
The subscription numbers for ‘E-editions’ tell an interesting story.
The Detroit Free Press had 99,613 digital subscriptions as of September, 2010. That was second nationally only to the Wall Street Journal–if you just count E-edition subscriptions.
Two groups have found success with digital editions.
The first group is local papers, like the Free Press. The Toledo Blade (Ohio) and Schenectady Gazette (New York) rank in the top-25 for digital subscriptions. These papers have local readers willing to pay for a superior online reading mode.
The second group is industry publications. Investor’s Business Daily and Women’s Wear Daily (the fashion industry trade journal) both have high digital subscription numbers.
(I should mention that “digital subscriptions” include subscriptions to website pay-walls, not exclusively E-editions.)
Follow the Post
The Post seems has struck a good balance.
For paying subscribers, the “e-replica” paper is available with all the features and goodies you expect when you pay good money.
And for casual readers like myself who want to see what Washingtonians are picking up on their doorstep in the morning, there’s the “Today’s paper” feature.
More papers should follow the Post’s lead with the dual digital paper options–one for subscribers, and one for the casual reader.
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