The parent company of the Los Angeles News Group — that's the Daily News, the Breeze and seven other local newspapers — has decided to move all of the papers behind what they are calling an all-access subscription pay wall. Starting Wednesday, subscribers will get to read the entire websites but visitors will be metered to allow only a set number of free articles per month. It's unknown yet where the meter will be set, or whether it will apply to popular local blogs such as Rick Orlov's Sausage Factory politics blog at the Daily News, Brian Sumers' LA Airspace at the Breeze, or the sports blogs. I kinda wish the investment would go into re-designing the recent re-design at the LANG websites, which have become very difficult to use for my purposes, but I guess that's a different story.
Here's the Daily News story via Digital First Media, which made the call. Excerpt:
Los Angeles News Group websites will transition to the model on Wednesday - which include the Los Angeles Daily News, Torrance Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press-Telegram, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, Whittier Daily News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, San Bernardino Sun and Redlands Daily Facts. With the exception of The Salt Lake Tribune, the remainder of the chain’s 75 daily newspapers will roll out subscription packages through January 2014.
The all-access metered model will allow non-subscribers a set number of free articles per month. Subscribers will receive access to print, digital and mobile content.
Previously, content on most Digital First sites was available free. Individual papers within the company had experimented with paywalls and other revenue generators, such as asking consumers to fill out surveys before accessing content, but neither approach had the desired results.
DFM's CEO John Paton explained the strategy in a blog post of his own. He previously was opposed to pay walls. Excerpt:
The transformational journey from print to digital is a long one. And it is all uphill.
It’s a journey made all the more difficult when you carry the extra tonnage of newspaper companies whose cost structures were more than a century in the making and now need to be radically rebuilt – by yesterday.
Print dollars are becoming digital dimes. But costs are still in dollars and, like most newspaper companies, we are radically reducing those costs.
The future for most news media companies lies in selling a variety of multi-platform products and services to advertisers and marketers.
Marketing dollars in all forms are moving into digital. With a foot in both the past and future, companies like Digital First Media have to manage the decline of one medium while building for – and in some cases, waiting for – the new revenue streams to grow.