LA Times puts up a web paywall *

Freeloaders get 15 stories for free in a month. Otherwise, it's $3.99 for a week of digital access, less if you take the Sunday paper in print, the Times story says. There's a cheaper introductory rate of 99 cents for four weeks of what the paper calls a membership program, to go into effect March 5. Print subscribers get the online paper for free.

Perhaps bigger news: The Times is killing its standalone Food, Health and Home sections in print and merging them into a new Saturday "lifestyle" section to debut March 10. The dead print sections will continue to exist online.

* Update after the jump: The staff memo from Times president Kathy Thomson.

From: Thomson, Kathy K
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 9:40 AM
To: AllLosAngelesTimesEmployees
Subject: Exciting changes

Colleagues,

You are an integral part of ensuring our success and we want you to be the first to hear about the exciting changes we’ll be making to the Los Angeles Times in the coming days. These are important steps in our ongoing evolution as we expand and grow our digital offerings and reinforce the value of our print products.

LOS ANGELES TIMES MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM

On Monday, March 5, we’re launching a membership program designed to be our readers’ all-access pass to the best of Southern California news, culture and happenings. It will include:


• Unlimited digital access to all of The Times’ award-winning news and information: unique storytelling, investigative reports, in-depth local news, signature blogs, compelling photo galleries, original video content, revealing data projects and analysis

• Special opportunities at select Times events, exclusive discounts and deals, giveaways and contests


Here’s what it means for our readers and you:


• Our valued home delivery customers will automatically be considered members at no additional cost

• Our most avid latimes.com readers who don’t currently subscribe will be able to join for a nominal fee

o At launch, we will be offering a special $0.99 promotional membership for four weeks of unrestricted digital access

o Additional packages combining print and digital will also be made available

• Non-members can continue to browse The Times online for limited reading and breaking news

• Employees will be provided with automatic membership and can register at www.latimes.com/employeemembership starting March 5th


Here’s what it means for our advertisers:


• We expect latimes.com to remain one of the most trafficked news sites in the country and the leader in Southern California

• This change increases the value of our digital advertising programs, ensuring that ads are seen by more engaged users

• We do not anticipate any disruptions in service for our advertising partners


LIFESTYLE SECTION LAUNCH

On March 10, we will debut a new weekly section called Saturday for our print edition. Saturday is a visual feast designed to reflect Southern California’s unique lifestyle. It will combine the best of our health, food and home sections on a day perfectly suited to living life to its fullest. Our individual Health, Food and Home sections will remain available online, but will no longer be separately published in print. We are excited to reimagine some of our distinctive feature coverage and present it with a fresh, bold point of view.

The change will allow advertisers to reach more than 2 million readers through the Saturday print section and latimes.com’s Health, Food and Home verticals. It will also provide five new zoning opportunities for ad sales – Orange County, South Bay/Southeast, San Fernando Valley/Ventura, San Gabriel Valley/Inland Empire and Westside Central.

The last publication dates for the current Health, Food and Home sections are as follows:

Health ─ February 27, 2012

Food ─ March 1, 2012

Home ─ March 3, 2012

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED

Employee FAQ: is posted in “Latest Company News” on TimesLink
Saturday prototypes: Karin Satterfield (xxxx@latimes.com)

AS ALWAYS

In introducing the new Membership program and launching our new lifestyle section, we are delivering on our mission to provide the highest-quality journalism for our readers and influential and engaged audiences for our advertisers. This is going to be an exciting year with much more to come.

Thank you for your continued commitment to excellence.

Kathy



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