As so many newspapers around the world struggle to survive during the coronavirus pandemic – and with many not succeeding – one leading Swedish title finds it’s heading for a record year.

Dagens Nyheter, the country’s most prestigious daily, is expecting to report its best financial results since the turn of the century, the Financial Times reports.

Thanks to a rise in digital subscriptions, following a “free try, before you buy” campaign, it expects to report profits up by around 50% to $20 million, editor Peter Wolodarski told the FT.

“Financially, we’re heading for one of our best years, maybe the best year, since the 1990s,” Wolodarski said. “If somebody had told me that at the start of the pandemic, I would not have believed it.

“This has to do with digitalisation,” he added. “If you’re well positioned in this environment then what the pandemic has done is accelerated existing trends,” he added.

The paper decided to open its website content free to non-subscribers at certain periods throughout the pandemic – the only proviso was that readers had to hand over their email address.

The scheme was a huge success with around 25% to 30% of the 200,000 people who took up the offer ultimately converting to paid-for subscribers. While ad revenues plunged by 20% to 30%, the new subscriptions raised digital revenue by almost 50% compared to last year.

While print subscriptions of Dagens Nyheter have fallen by about 20% this year to 208,000, overall, digital subscriptions are up by around 20%.

“If you are a general newspaper one challenge is to reach a lot of people. If the hurdles are too high, if the paywall is too strong, you will keep a lot of people out. So, we have had a lot of free trials,” Wolodarski said.

“In a crisis, there is a mission to be available to as many people as possible. To get people on board, you let them try,” he explained.

What is proving to be a financial success has also turned out to be good for the quality of the journalism the newspaper produces. It has grown its reporting staff by 10% in the past two years, and now plans to take on ten new reporters as it embarks on a more national focus, rather than concentrating on the capital.


Sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff