R.I.P. unlimited free online news. Possibly for real this time (at least from newspapers). The nation’s largest newspaper chain is said to be planning a roll out of its paid model by the end of this year.
Forbes is reporting Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper chain, which controls more than 80 newspapers around the country from small community papers to USA Today, apparently has plans to switch over its community papers to a tiered pay model this year. (One notable exception: USA Today.) The switch to a tiered paywall — where the first few stories per month are free — comes amid a renewed emphasis on digital-first news gathering, which has included handing out thousands of iPhones and iPads to news staffers at various properties.
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, is planning to switch over all of its 80 community newspapers to a paid model by the end of the year, it announced during an investor day held in Manhattan Wednesday.
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
This news is hardly unexpected. Not only are other major newspapers and outlets heading in this direction, but Gannett itself has been toying with this model at some of its properties for some time and started actively testing this tiered model this month.
Jim Romenesko posted the paywall FAQ customers of those test sites received in January. According to that, subscribers continue to have unfettered access to all content on all platforms.