ProJo Gets in on the Deal

The Providence Journal, which has been slow to innovate in recent years, is making moves.

A half-page ad in today's paper trumpets the company's venture into the Groupon-style deals market. And newsroom employees got their first taste of the paper's new web site today over coffee and pastries in the grand Art Deco auditorium on the paper's fourth floor.

John Hill, a reporter who is president of the Providence Newspaper Guild union, said the new site - to be unveiled at the end of the month - is cleaner, simpler, and easier to navigate than, once considered a trailblazer, looks out-of-date these days.

The launch of the new site,, will coincide with the erection of the ProJo's long-awaited pay wall. Hill said there were scant details about the cost structure. But subscribers, he said, will get the print edition and full access to the on-line version of the paper.

Breaking news and shorter versions of the paper's stories will still be accessible on a free portion of the paper's site, as the Phoenix reported months ago.

The redesign will be trumpeted by a full advertising campaign, including television and billboard advertising, Hill said.

The union chief said he is pleased to see the web site overhaul - and heartened that the paper will be promoting itself. "This has been a hard few years," he said. "And to see us...get up off the floor - this is kind of cool."

The Journal's deals site is Visitors, at the moment, can pre-register for deals that will mean 50-90 percent off "dining, clothing, fitness, special events and more."

Other papers around the country, including the Boston Globe, have been in the business for some time now. And newspaper executives are hopeful that it can buttress the bottom line for an industry in decline.

The ProJo, of course, will face some local competition - from the Phoenix's and the upstart, among others.

The paper is making its pitch. We'll see if the public buys.


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