With the launch of its pay wall approaching, The New York Times seems to be inspiring some industry consolidation. R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. on Thursday announced the acquisition of Journalism Online and its Press+ paid content management system.
News Corp. took a minority stake in the company last year, which debuted less than two years ago by Steve Brill, Gordon Crovitz and Leo Hindery Jr.
Tangled in what he called "a form of group suicide," serial entrepreneur Brill has spent the past few years imploring media publishers to shed their collective "inferiority complex" and begin charging subscription fees for content.
That mission, Brill said on Thursday, can now better be achieved under the wing of R.R. Donnelley. "RR Donnelley has been enabling publishers to reach their customers with a viable, cost-effective business model," said Steven Brill, founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV.
Despite agreements with various publishers, Journalism Online was unable to establish itself as a major player in the subscription-based marketplace. The coming launch of The New York Times' metered pay wall appears to have sealed the company's fate.
Still a viable product, however, Press+ enables publishers to offer readers a mix of options for subscribing to premium content, including metered, mobile and tablet, and out-of-market access.
"Our experience demonstrates that publishers using Press+ for metered access to Web sites and other digital products retain their online ad revenue and readership, while adding a valuable revenue stream from online subscriptions," said L. Gordon Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher.
In April 2009, Journalism Online launched with an undisclosed amount of funding from Hindery's InterMedia Advisors, LLP.