Others have tried. But no American news organization as large as The Times has put its content behind what’s called a pay wall.
While the response was mixed, the company remained steadfast — and readers, so far, have embraced the pay-for-access concept. According to the Times, it had 224,000 digital subscribers at the end of the second quarter, in addition to 57,000 who are accessing the paper on e-readers and “replica editions.” All told, the company has 281,000 paid digital subscribers.
“The positive consumer response to the digital subscription packages is a strong indication of the value that users place on our high-quality news, analysis, and commentary,” said Janet L. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, in a statement.”
But will this model work in, say, Hawaii?
We’re about to find out, as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser announced yesterday it was going to start charging for premium online content on Aug. 5.
(Subscribers to the print edition will receive all-access passes to premium content at no extra charge.)
For $19.95 a month, here’s what you get:
• The print edition
• Access to all website content
• Access to a new e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition
• Access via computer, iPad, iPhone or smartphone
• Ability to forward stories to their email or social media accounts
• Participate in online discussions
• Ability to open links to premium content
The thing is, I’m not sure what “premium content” is.
Because here’s the weird thing: According to the story, nonsubscribers will still have free digital access to breaking news, Associated Press stories, the website’s front page and section fronts, event calendars, Honolulu Pulse, TGIF, photo galleries, blogs, classifieds, travel, obituaries and traffic.
Isn’t that all you need…?
I could be wrong. I want to be wrong. I don’t want to see another newspaper — especially the one in my hometown — go the way of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News.
But unless the Star-Advertiser starts pumping out high-quality, well-researched analysis packages with real privileges like Civil Beat, I don’t know why people would pay.