If you read a lot of articles on the Tacoma News Tribune web site, you’re going to have to start paying. The News-Tribune is joining the growing ranks of newspapers that are saying no more free lunch when it comes to reading online.
National papers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal charge for digital access, but so do more and more regional papers like the Minneapolis StarTribune and even small papers like the Daily World in Aberdeen, Washington.
The News Tribune says access to the home page, obituaries and classifieds will not be restricted. But other stories will be limited to 15 page views a month. The paper will charge $9.95 a month for unlimited online access. Media analyst Ken Doctor says papers are taking action as they cope with declining ad revenue.
"We’ve seen it go from experiment to mainstream in two years," Doctor said. "It’s the biggest movement in daily newspapers and it has a lot of promise."
Doctor says this model allows newspapers to stem the defection of their print subscribers. For many years, print subscribers have thought, why should I pay for delivery of this newspaper when I can get it online for free? Now, Doctor says newspapers are going to their subscribers and saying, "Hey, if you pay us a couple extra bucks a month, you can get the print paper and unlimited online access."
He says that’s where the model has proven most successful. But to make this work, papers also have to provide content readers can’t get elsewhere.