The Diário Digital online news service has closed down after 17 years “due to a lack of financial viability.”
Pedro Curvelo, the last acting director, announced the end of the 'online only' service which was launched in July, 1999 and struggled through the recession losing money as it went.
The shareholders finally called a halt to the losses in December and closed down the business. Troubles started back in 2001 with staff cuts leaving only 20 people on the payroll.
The 2008 financial crisis and the contraction of the advertising market, Diário Digital’s main source of revenue, further shrunk the newsroom numbers.
Pedro Curvelo said, "We were quite affected as we did not have the cushion that other traditional media groups had. The newsroom numbers started to shrink, but there were no dismissals, the journalists just started to leave.”
At the end there were only seven journalists left and the digital news service, the first online only offering in Portugal, faced strong online competition for revenue: "What has been agreed is that compensation will be paid according to the law,” said Curvelo who confirmed that there were no wage arrears.
Pedro Curvelo, who joined in 2000, commented: "It was a very rewarding experience, especially in the times when the project was more solid. I have been lucky to work with very competent people."
The market for online news is growing with many free services upsetting those with pay walls - and both models eating away at newspaper sales.
Sufficient advertising revenue is hard to come by to support of a fully staffed online news service and traditional newspaper sales are declining, adding further financial pressure to media providers.
The growth market is for free online news services but these often are chasing the same advertisers, forcing revenue lower and lower.
The niche occupied by the algarvedailynews, that of a community-based free daily news service in English covering the Algarve region, relies on close-to-zero overheads and on specific regional advertisers keen to access an expatriate audience, as well as English speaking locals.
Diário Digital, has struggled for years and, as it was not part of a larger and supportive media group, it is only a surprise that it lasted so long.
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Long may it continue.