The Los Angeles Times said Friday that it will begin to charge the readers of its website, confirming a Wrap report in December.
As TheWrap reported at the time, the daily paper will institute a metered paywall whereby online readers can access up to 15 stories a month for free. After that they will need to buy a subscription or lose access.
The subscription plan — which the paper is referring to as a membership program — will take effect on March 5 with an introductory rate of 99 cents a month. After the 99 cents for the first four weeks, the digital-only rate will rise to $3.99 a week. Other packages will be offered, including $1.99 a week for unlimited digital access and the Sunday newspaper. Online access will be included at no extra charge for print subscribers.
"We want to be able to serve customers when they want the news and where they want it," Kathy Thomson, president and chief operating officer of Los Angeles Times Media Group, told the Times.
The paper also announced that it would begin phasing out its Health, Food and Home sections in print and start delivering a new weekly lifestyle section to subscribers on Saturdays. The Health, Food and Home sections will remain available online. In December, TheWrap reported that the Food and Home sections were among those that could be eliminated for budget reasons.
Digital subscription plans, commonly known as paywalls, have been all the rage over the past year, as everyone from the New York Times to the Dallas Morning News has adopted different kinds.
Just this week, Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, announced all of its publications save its flagship, USA Today, would go behind a paywall.
Both Gannett and the L.A. Times are following the New York Times’ metered approach, which permits readers to access a certain number of articles before having to pay.
Other newspapers, like the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News, have taken a different kind of metered approach, making certain types of stories free, like sports coverage, while placing the rest of the content behind the wall.
The benefit of this model is simple. Getting readers to pay for web access increases subscription revenue and tries to inculcate readers with the idea that the content is worth something.
The drawback is believed to be a decline in traffic, though the New York Times has not had that problem.