The "Gateway" in Northern Virginia
The owners of the daily News & Messenger serving communities in Northern Virginia decided to shutter the newspaper after concluding it didn't possess a strong enough franchise in a fragmented market that included Manassas and Prince William County.
But part of the operation still had value: its website and Facebook page.
Northern Virginia Media Services, owner of neighboring weekly newspapers, acquired InsideNoVa.com and its accompanying Facebook page shortly before the News & Messenger ceased publishing. The weekly publisher also announced plans to start a companion print weekly in the market, Prince William Today.
Richard Connor, CEO and chairman of Northern Virginia Media Services, explained:
“Because we already had on staff a former publisher in Manassas, as well as the former editor of the website, we believed Prince William County could support a weekly newspaper even in the face of tough sledding for the daily.
“Before we could even come up with a name for the new paper, one of our executives said we needed to pull out the stops and buy both the website and its Facebook component for the Manassas newspaper. The website has a large and loyal audience, plus lots of advertising.
“So suddenly it dawned on us to reverse the traditional formula and buy the website and Facebook page in order to hang on to the audience, while we introduce them to a new print product.
“We've been selling newspaper subscriptions before our first edition has printed. Buying InsideNoVa has been the gateway for us.”