Walter Hussman, CEO of WEHCO Media, owner of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. (Screen grab from YouTube.)
The Chattanooga Times Free Press, one of Tennessee’s largest daily news outlets, is converting to an all-digital format with the exception of a Sunday print edition, publisher Walter Hussman announced Saturday.
The daily print edition will cease by mid-2022.
Hussman announced the changes to newspaper staff Friday afternoon and editor Alison Gerber told subscribers in a Saturday morning story.
In a video posted to YouTube, Hussman said the conversion will be a “digital replica” and that the format will appear “a much better way of storytelling than just having the story in print.”
“You can store up to 60 previous editions on your IPad” rather than having to keep print copies, said Hussman, adding a poll of readers showed 40% of respondents said they go back to see past stories.
The outlet will buy thousands of Apple IPads for monthly subscribers and hold training sessions in hotels, community centers and even subscribers’ homes, according to Gerber’s story.
It is not immediately clear how many production and delivery jobs will be cut. Calls and emails to Gerber had not been returned at publication time.
Hussman owns WEHCO Media, which publishes eight daily papers in three states, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Texarkana Gazette in addition to the Times Free Press. The Democrat-Gazette converted to all-digital in mid-2019.
The Chattanooga Times was founded in 1869 and purchased by Adolph Ochs, who went on to purchase the New York Times, in 1878. The Ochs-Sulzberger family kept control of the times until 1999 after Hussman purchased it. Hussman had purchased the Free Press, founded in 1933, in 1998 and merged the two outlets.
Alumni of the outlets include Jon Meacham, who wrote for the Times and has won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2009 and Bill Dedman, who worked for both the News Free Press and the Times. Dedman won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1989.
This is a developing story. Please check back.
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