MediaNews Group, the publisher of 57 U.S. daily newspapers, announced it will erect online paywalls for 23 of its smaller newspaper sites. The paywalls, which will ask online readers to pay for digital content access, also includes those who subscribe to the print edition, Media Post reported.
Under the new system, visitors to the MNG sites will be allowed to see up to five articles for free per month, and will need to pay for access after that.
Online readers who don’t subscribe to a print edition can choose to pay $5.99 per month or $59.99 for access for one year, while print subscribers only need to pay $1.99 per month or $19.99 annually.
Those adopting the new paywalls are only small and mid-sized newspapers – MGN’s bigger titles, such as the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Salt Lake City Tribune and Long Beach Press-Telegram, will remain free for online access.
According to a survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia, one-fourth of U.S. newspapers are already charging for some online content. The figure could increase to 60 percent in a few years, as publishers struggle to stabilise finances amid a continuing drop in print ad revenues, and only modest growth in online, Media Post reported.
The survey found that the proportion is even higher among smaller newspapers (circulation under 25,000) – 46 percent has some kind of online paywalls, compared to only 24 percent for newspapers with circulation over 25,000.
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