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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is a newspaper and website that focuses on news about colleges and universities in the United States.

The Chronicle is based in Washington, D.C., and has a staff of more than 70 writers and editors, including 17 international correspondents. As of May 2011, the Chronicle has 66,000 total subscribers, with 16,020 of those coming from the paper’s digital subscriptions. The Chronicle itself counts its total readership at more than 245,000.

Online, The Chronicle is published every weekday, and gets more than 14 million pageviews a month, with more than 1.7 million unique visitors.

Digital innovation

The Chronicle was one of the first newspapers to appear on the Internet. In 1993, it debuted online as a Gopher service. In 1995, the Chronicle launched Academe Today, its daily service on the Internet. Currently, while some portions of the Chronicle’s site are available to all readers free of charge — about 40 percent, its editor estimates — only subscribers have access to the entire site. In early March 2011, the Chronicle released an iPad app, which allows print subscribers to access issues of the Chronicle on the iPad at no charge while also offering in-app purchasing options for single issues and special editions.

Diverse funding streams

The Chronicle was founded as a nonprofit in 1966 by Corbin Gwaltney, formerly the editor of Johns Hopkins University’s alumni magazine. At the outset, in order to maintain its mission to be a trustworthy source of news, the paper featured neither editorials nor advertising, and its 5,000 subscribers paid $10 for 22 issues a year. Later on, the paper was supported entirely by grants from the Carnegie Foundation and the Ford Foundation. In 1970, however, the paper introduced classified ads, which eventually allowed it to become financially independent. In 1978, the Chronicle changed its corporate status, becoming a for-profit publication.

The Chronicle’s paper and website now feature entire sections devoted to classified ads, a resource to those both seeking and offering employment in higher education. That can mean, however, that the Chronicle’s financial fortunes are closely tied to state budgets, which determine public university employment opportunities. When state budgets are cut, the Chronicle’s publisher noted in 2006, “that’s when institutions are unable to hire and the recruiting basically drops off.”

In 2004, the Chronicle saw the launch of its chief competitor, Inside Higher Ed. The online-only site was founded by three former Chronicle reporters largely in response to the Chronicle’s relatively high subscription fees, which, they said, put it out of reach for many in higher education. Inside Higher Ed is free for readers, with most of its revenue coming from employment advertising and services for employment recruiters.

The Chronicle was early to experiment with online subscriptions. In 1998, it began offering online-only subscriptions for subscribers outside the United States. By 1999, the number of Chronicle subscribers registered for its online services had surpassed 70,000. (Print circulation at the times was 95,547.) In March 2001, the Chronicle began offering online-only subscriptions for U.S. subscribers, which are currently on offer at $82.50 per year (print) and $72.50 a year (e-replica), with both options offering full access to the Chronicle’s website.

Circulation dollars, however, make up only 20 percent of the Chronicle’s overall income. The Chronicle also brings in revenue from site licenses to academic institutions. Since May 2005, those licenses have been available to all institutions of higher learning at a cost ranging from $500 to $9,775, depending on enrollment numbers and other factors at the licensee institutions.

Since 1988, the Chronicle has also published The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper for the nonprofit world that is known in particular for its Guide to Grants, an electronic database of corporate and foundation grants.

Arts & Letters Daily

In 2002, the Chronicle purchased the web portal Arts & Letters Daily, a humanities-focused site that was an early innovator in web curation. (Its creator and editor, the philosophy professor Denis Dutton, was inspired by The Drudge Report — but intended A&L Daily “for readers interested in ideas and the arts.”) Though the project began as an email list, it launched as a standalone site in 1998, and by 1999 had a monthly readership of 250,000. In its 2007 review of the “Top 100 Classic Web Sites,” PC Magazine praised A&L Daily for curating “some of the most interesting reads available on the Web today” and acting “as a clearinghouse for a dizzying amount of articles on various subjects.”

In December 2010, after Dutton’s death, it was announced that the editorship of A&L Daily would pass to Chronicle editor Evan Goldstein and economics professor Tran Huu Dung, Dutton’s longtime collaborator.

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Primary author: Megan Garber. Main text last updated: May 31, 2011.
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