Free Press to add pay wall to website


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The Free Press will join the growing trend among North American newspapers by asking some website readers to start paying.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/12/2011 (3896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Free Press will join the growing trend among North American newspapers by asking some website readers to start paying.

For the next three months, the Free Press will experiment with a so-called pay wall, restricting access to readers outside of Canada to a limited number of stories for free.

Starting Monday, readers outside Canada will be allowed to read the home page of the newspaper’s website and up to 10 articles a month, but after that they’ll be asked to pay $6.95 per month or $69.95 per year.

Free Press publisher Bob Cox said pay walls are a growing trend in the newspaper industry.

“Everybody is looking at this, because we’re all looking at new ways of generating revenue,” Cox said.

“We spend a lot of money to produce the content we put online. We think it has value.”

About 200 newspapers across North America now have pay walls for some or all of their website content.

In Canada, the Postmedia newspaper chain recently launched a pay wall for the Montreal Gazette and its former Victoria paper the Times-Colonist, and the Globe and Mail is planning to implement one next year.

This week, the Chicago Sun-Times announced it would start charging everyone who uses its website, including home-delivery subscribers, but at different rates.

Home subscribers would pay $1.99 every four weeks, while non-subscribers would pay $6.99 every four weeks or $77.87 per year.

But Sandra Kukreja, the Free Press’s vice-president of digital media, said the Free Press is believed to be the first newspaper in North America to use geography for its pay wall.

“The majority of our out-of-country readers are in the United States, but we have pockets in the Philippines, England and Australia,” Kukreja said.

“Fifteen per cent of our online readers are outside of Canada.”

Kukreja said if a Free Press subscriber goes away and cancels their subscription, they’ll have to pay the online charges if they want to read all the stories on the website.

But Kukreja said if they donate their subscription to the paper’s Newspapers in Education program or to the hospitals, they will still be able to access the website for free.

John White, deputy editor, online, said the Free Press has been looking at implementing a pay wall for some time.

“We’ve seen other news organizations have some success with a metered approach,” he said. “This is a first step.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.


Updated on Thursday, December 8, 2011 3:56 PM CST: Corrects reference to Postmedia papers.

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