Major Mexican daily considers charging for mobile apps (Interview)

Reforma, one of Mexico’s biggest newspapers and a pioneer in charging for online content, is studying ways to charge for its mobile content, a top executive revealed.

In an interview with Journalism in the Americas, Jorge Meléndez, the vice-president for new media at Grupo Reforma, which publishes ten newspapers, among them Reforma and El Norte de Monterrey, said that they had yet to decide a date or means to charge, but wanted its model to be match that of other media outlets in the region.

“We are building an audience and evaluating. I can’t comment on when nor how, but we are evaluating what to do,” said Meléndez after his presentation at the International Symposium on Online Journalism in Austin last week. Since 2009, Reforma has developed more than 15 apps for platforms like the iPhone and Blackberry.

Reforma’s paywall has been live since 2002, and though they lost more than 30% of their traffic in the first year, the company’s ad revenue has remained high. Traffic numbers have since recovered, Meléndez said, and Reforma has 350,00 subscribers – 50,000 of which are online only.

Online operations generate between eight and nine percent of the company’s overall revenue, Meléndez says, however a recent Knight Center analysis revealed that Reforma has fallen behind its competitors in Twitter followers, where El Universal is the top daily. “You can have more visits, but the question is whether they have the biggest digital business, and I am not sure that that is the case,” the executive said.

See a video of the interview here.

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» Knight Center (Will the NY Times paywall work?)
» Knight Center (Experimenting key to making newspaper paywalls work)

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.