Paywall Times: Metered Model for Local Content Coming to Gazettetimes.com

Posted on July 17, 2012

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Beginning today, the Gazette-Timeswebsite, gazettetimes.com, is moving to a “metered online model,” which means we will be charging subscription fees for some online content.

Here’s how it works: The meter on our site will be set to allow anyone to read 15 local news stories on the website during a 30-day period for free. Readers exceeding the 15-story limit will be presented options to buy a one-month or annual subscription at a low cost. Readers accessing fewer than 15 stories over 30 days will continue to enjoy free access to all elements of the site.

Infrequent and occasional readers of gazettetimes.com probably won’t notice any changes.

The notion of offering “free” news on newspaper websites goes back to the days when those websites were first launched, 15 or so years ago. At the time, the potential for online readership was largely unknown. When papers finally committed to putting their products online, most of the existing models were built around unlimited access to free content, the format most of us chose to follow.

Now, 15 or so years later, our audience for online news has grown — and continues to grow — dramatically. Newspapers have built huge Internet audiences. The Gazette-Times’ website averages more than 225,000 unique visitors every month.

Newspaper websites have continued to improve and evolve, and more changes are on the way.

We’ve also determined that some aspects of the site will always be free — no matter what. You can go to the gazettetimes.com homepage and our section home pages as often you as like without activating the meter. Classified ads, other advertisements, all national news, photos and video supplied by the Associated Press will remain unmetered and available without charge, as will breaking news.

The resources the Gazette-Times puts into local news gathering help to produce a unique and valuable product. We know people see value because they visit our website in huge numbers every month — and when breaking news hits, the traffic on the site spikes dramatically.

Our loyal print customers have been paying for the news for decades and we want to give them the most favorable terms should they want to continue unlimited access to gazettetimes.com. If you are a print subscriber, a 30-day online subscription will cost just $2.95 and a 12-month online subscription is priced at just $11.95 — less than a dollar a month.

For non-newspaper subscribers, 30 days of full online access will cost $7.95 and an annual online subscription will cost $59.95. If you don’t read more than 15 local stories in any 30-day period, it’s all free.

We at the Gazette-Times are committed to offering our readers a quality product, both in print and at gazettetimes.com, every day of the year. While we’ve enjoyed having the website open to all, asking the most engaged online readers to support news operations is a step being taken by newspapers and other publications throughout the country. Today, we follow that lead.

For answers to frequently asked questions, refer to the online version of this story.

Thanks, as always, for reading the Gazette-Times.

Mike McInally is editor of the Gazette-Times, director of content for Mid-Valley Media and interim publisher of Mid-Valley Media. You can reach him at mike.mcinally@gazettetimes.com.

 

Frequently asked questions about metered content

What is a digital subscription? What do I get when I subscribe?

To get unlimited access to gazettetimes.com, you’ll need an online subscription. When you subscribe, you’ll get unlimited access to articles, breaking news, photo galleries, blog posts, reader comments, Gazette-Times archived articles and more. All visitors are able to view 15 pages FREE during any 30-day period. Exceeding that amount will result in the need for a digital subscription to continue enjoying gazettetimes.com‘s suite of articles and tools.

If I have multiple computers at my residence or place of work, do I need to purchase multiple digital subscriptions?

No. You will be provided a username and password to access gazettetimes.com at your residence, at work, on the go, at a library, wherever. It is this ease of access that allows our customers to obtain news and information instantly, anywhere.

If I already subscribe to the print version of the Gazette-Times, do I receive a discount on my digital subscription?

Yes. Customers who already subscribe to the Gazette-Times’ print edition will receive a hefty discount to their online subscription. Enmeshing the functionality of gazettetimes.com‘s online tools with the print version’s tactile appeal creates a news and information one-two punch unmatched by any other local news medium.

Is my digital subscription exclusive to gazettetimes.com, or does it include online access to other Lee newspapers?

The subscription package does NOT include access to other Lee news websites, including the Democrat-Herald.

What about viewing gazettetimes.com articles on my mobile phone? Do I need a digital subscription for that?

No. Mobile-optimized versions of our website and mobile apps do not limit the number of articles you can view.

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

You may cancel your subscription at any time. When you cancel, your account will not be charged the following billing cycle. Each billing cycle is 30 days, starting with the day of purchase. Unlimited access to gazettetimes.com will continue for the remainder of the current 30-day period. Afterward, you will still be able to view 15 articles a month on gazettetimes.com, just like any other visitor. We do not refund partial months. We will however refund the remaining full months of an annual subscription.

Does reading this story count against the meter?

No.

Subscription Packages:

Digital Only:

This provides unlimited monthly access to the website for $7.95/month. You may also select an annual subscription for $59.95.

Digital + Home Delivery:

This package provides unlimited access to the website $2.95/month if you are a current print subscriber. You may also select an annual subscription for $11.95. This amount is in addition to your print subscription rate.

All of these subscriptions will automatically renew unless the reader contacts us to cancel.

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