Traditional media houses haven’t been the quickest to embrace tech but they are doing so slowly but surely.
Anyway having subscribed to both papers – I thought sharing my experience of both would be helpful to would-be readers and the publishers themselves.
For the Newsday, initally they had 3 promotional optional options for subscribers;
- $15 for one month
- $22 for 2 months
- $36 for 3 months
After the promotion which ended on the 22nd of April, that pricing rose significantly and now subscribers are expected to pay the following;
- $130 for a month
- $245 for 2 months
- $280 for 3 months
The Herald on the other hand is much cheaper with the following price tiers;
- $1 for a day
- $2 for a week
- $6 for a month
- $15 for 3 months
- $30 for 6 months
- $60 for a year
Whilst Herald’s ePaper is significantly cheaper – their yearly subscription is cheaper than the monthly sub for the Newsday ePaper – one has t question just how sustainable it is.
Another thing to note when it comes to the Herald’s ePaper is that the pricing is consistent regardless of your method of payment. This means if you pay using a VISA/Mastercard card you’ll pay US$2 where someone paying using EcoCash pays ZW$2.
Delivery and Distribution
In this regards – The NewsDay runs rings around the Herald. AMH’s ePaper is delivered via email every morning (around 5am) and is in PDF format. There’s not much to say about the delivery because it simply works.
Recently, NewsDay implemented sharing restrictions that now require a password for users to open the PDF file they receive from the publishing house. Subscribers can use their email address as the password. This makes sharing problematic since you’ll also have to share your email if you want to share the PDF and many simply won’t be willing to do so.
NewsDay also intends to start distributing the paper via WhatsApp which will open the paper up to a much larger addressable audience since millions of Zimbos already use WhatsApp.
Considering that weekly WhatsApp bundles come with a 65mb data cap I would recommend that NewsDay make their sure their ePaper is smaller than 5MB. At times its as high as 8MB which would mean customers aren’t able to read all the papers they receive in a week.
The Herald’s delivery is not as well thought-out as that of NewsDay. For starters, Zimpapers ePaper is delivered via a webpage and this has resulted in 2 glaring problems in my experience;
- The paper is often late; sometimes the latest paper only appears on the designated webpage after midday.
- On many occasions, the paper has missing pages and on the worst of days it actually has missing sections
Once or twice the paper hasn’t even been updated at all resulting in having a paper from the previous day in view but this hasn’t happened often enough for me to label it a problem to the extent that I have experienced the two issues I raised above.
The current method of distribution poses another challenge. Simply having a webpage that asks for a password and email means multiple people can read off of one subscription. When you consider that local subscribers are already paying peanuts for the content, The Herald’s model is less sustainable because of the way they handle distribution.
For the most part the content in the two papers is mostly the same but through the context of each papers editorial outlook so I don’t really think one offers “better” content per say and that will obviously boil down to preference for subscribers.
Even though the Newsday is more expensive, their distribution and delivery certainly gives the impression that a lot more thought has gone into their ePaper and the better experience on offer is something The Herald should take note off.
If I had to pick one ePaper to rule them all at this moment it would be NewsDay… easily!
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