Can papers boost circulation by charging online?

The only regional newspaper in the UK to increase its paid-for circulation in the second half of 2008 is also one of the few to charge for online content.

The Irish News, based in Northern Ireland, saw its circulation rise 0.1 per cent to 47,819.

But stories on its website – irishnews.com – are mainly for subscribers only, who pay a £65 annual subscription.

Noel Doran, editor, told the Independent on Sunday: ‘If you’re in an area where there is online advertising, you can afford to do that [give away content].

“But in Northern Ireland it is very, very hard to find – online ad revenue simply does not exist here. So we charge a £65 annual subscription.

‘We don’t have a huge number of subscribers, but the revenue certainly helps. I’m happy we have a reasonable website, but we can’t compare with any of the London nationals.”

The News is owned by one family, the Fitzpatricks, who bought it in the early 1980s.

It moved from broadsheet to Berliner in 2000, five years before The Guardian, and became tabloid in 2005.

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