Citing the need to increase revenue, the Globe will start charging $ 20 a month for full access to the website, beginning Oct. 22. Online access will be free for weekly print subscribers. Weekend subscribers will be able to get the service for an additional $ 5 a month.
Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley said the move was made after close study of the Financial Times of London, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, all of which run successful subscription websites.
Crawley said the growth in popularity of mobile devices has created a sustainable market for online content. People now like to read their paper at home in the morning and have access to it all day long on their smartphones or tablets.
The Globe has tried charging for online content online in the past. Several years ago it launched the Globe Insider, putting premium content, including columns by high-profile writers, behind a paywall. The effort was dropped because it suppressed traffic to the website, said Crawley.
“I think it’s becoming accepted wisdom that with the increase in digital content, people are prepared to pay as part of a package of offerings,” he said.
“A metered paywall and bundled editorial offerings may provide important revenue streams to support great reporting in the future. We are strongly committed to creating unique content for our community and we are exploring all possible ways of supporting it,” said Cruickshank.
Newspapers across North America have seen steep declines in revenue as advertising moves to the web, which has forced even established papers to fold or slash operating costs by firing staff and cutting back on coverage.
Paywalls — or metered payments, as they are sometimes called — are in effect at the National Post for international readers, at the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette and will probably be rolled out at all 10 Postmedia papers within the next few months.
The cost of online access varies depending on the paper and type of subscription.
“We’re still in the experimental phase,” said Godfrey.
Queen’s University professor emeritus Vincent Mosco said the $ 20 a month the Globe will charge seems substantial.
“It might turn off many readers, especially occasional readers,” said Mosco, author of The Political Economy of Communication.
Occasional Globe visitors can still get free access to 10 items a month, including articles, videos and slide shows. The Globe homepage, section fronts, videos, stock quotes and Letters to the Editor will all remain free and will not count toward the monthly limit.
Also on Monday, Gannett Co. — which owns USA Today and 81 other newspapers, 23 television stations and several digital businesses — reported its first increase in newspaper circulation revenue since 2007, helped by digital subscription growth.
The company’s newspaper publishing revenue dropped 3 per cent to $ 890.2 million from $ 917.8 million. Gannett attributed the decline to “soft advertising demand” resulting from the slow economic recovery. Advertising revenue at the newspapers fell nearly 7 per cent to $ 552.7 million from $ 591.7 million.
The company, however, saw Revenue in Gannett’s broadcasting unit grow 36 per cent to $ 237 million from $ 174.3 million last year, thanks to what Gannett called “substantial” ad spending during the Summer Olympics. Political spending was “slightly higher” than a year ago, the company said.
With files from Star wire services