"We're not trying to be a 24-hour on-line news service, we're trying to be a newspaper first," Mullowney said.

That explains why it actually costs more for a subscriber to get an online only subscription to the Daily News ($345 per year) than a combined paper-electronic subscription ($245) or a paper-only subscription ($145).

Indeed, if frustrated readers abandon the Web site and get the print version instead, well, that's OK with the Daily News.

The Newport paper is not the first in Rhode Island to try this model. The Westerly Sun, which went on-line about two-and-a-half years ago, offers a few of its lead stories on the web and makes the rest available in an e-paper for subscribers.

Tim Ryan, president and publisher of the Sun Publishing Company, says he does not have any hard data on the impact on the bottom line. But he says he has a "gut feeling" the Sun went in the right direction.

"When we watched some of the biggest papers in the country give away the news, we wrestled" with what we should do, he said.

"Lo and behold, the big guys are rocking on their heels," he added. "Here's one for the little guys, I think."

 

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