What do digital newspapers cost?

This last few years has seen an explosion in what can be called irritating advertising and “paid for” articles in digital newspapers here in Finland. Your correspondent got so annoyed that he decided to investigate the matter using what he calls the 80% rule.

This is the rule of thumb that says it is good enough to be 80% accurate when things are obviously in need of correction. In other words you do not need to write a PhD thesis on water pressure and metal fatigue when you see water dripping from a tap. You pick up a spanner and a new rubber washer from your tool pack!

The main business newspaper is called Kauppalehti and is owned by the second largest media company here in Finland, Alma Media. They charge €29 a month for the full digital service and run some 10 digital pages every day. Most of the articles are short and often rather critical of most things public. Around 50% to 60% of their digital pages are packed with either advertisements, paid content (another form of advertising), or repetitive lists of headlines or repeat, older articles. The actual news content is only some 30 articles many of which are just media releases, without any deeper analysis.

The main national newspaper is called Helsingin Sanomat that is owned by the largest media company called Sanoma Oy. They charge €13 a month for the digital service and also have around 30% of the screen pages covered by advertisements, which is in line with their paper version. The quality of their reporting is solid and useful. They have adequate resources and excellent coverage of domestic politics, society and culture. Their business coverage is weaker but adequate for most Finns. Coverage of international matters is strong and like most newspapers they rely heavily on domestic and foreign public service broadcasters, other major foreign newspapers, and a their team of correspondents and freelancers n the most important countries.

The rough and ready study of the main newspapers regularly followed by your correspondent shows some interesting results when compared against the 2 above main Finnish newspapers.

The table above shows that Finnish newspapers manage to spread the most advertisements on their digital sites while the big Europeans apart from Bonnier’s Dagens Nyheter and Dagens Industri who come immediately after the Finns.

The cost of the digital subscriptions varies and the quality of articles does not appear to be the driving factor! The main national newspapers sell between €5 and €15 each month which is a reasonable price. The only exception is in Germany where the Frankfurter Allgemeine wins the gold medal for the highest price on this list.

The FT has the best international coverage and excellent global business coverage and like all the business newspapers in this list they charge premium prices. The prices range for business papers is from €10 to €35 a month.

The New York Times and the Washington Post deliver great articles on global and US politics, business and culture – both are relatively low cost at between €8 to €14 a month for the digital versions.


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