As expected, Gannett is paywalling all of its newspapers, except USA Today. That means you will soon have to pay to access the Democrat and Chronicle online. A timetable and subscription rates have not been announced. Gannett will also launch new desktop, mobile and tablet products.
I’ve been enjoying the D&C online for quite some time. You will never see me read a print newspaper again. I don’t mind paying, but I’m eager to see the rates. Gannett has been testing paywalls at some of its newspapers at a rate of $9.95 a month or $2 a day for an all day pass. People who don’t subscribe will be able to read a limited number of articles.
There is a risk to this strategy, as GigaOm points out:
But to me, the biggest flaw in a paywall isn’t that the math is questionable, or even that a wall is inherently a backward-facing strategy, aimed at stacking sandbags around a paper’s content to try to keep out the digital hordes. The biggest flaw from a business perspective, particularly for smaller newspapers, is that walling up your content is an invitation to free competitors — from AOL’s Patch.com and Huffington Post to Mainstreet Connect and Neighborhoodr and Topix.net — to come and take away your readers.
Media companies have to figure out how to turn their millions of page views a month into dollars. The audience is there and I’ve long thought they should be able to make money on those eyeballs without charging.
The D&C is an incredibly important asset in this community, having the most journalism resources. That said, I hope the additional revenue means Gannett will provide more online content, link to past articles and outside news sources, stop laying off reporters and provide more overall value. They’ll have to do those things to keep us – and stay in business.