hat's no pay wall — it's an "Advantage Plan".
Update May 2nd: As was expected, The Post and Courier today flipped the switch for a "pay wall" on its website, asking visitors to pay $10 per month after viewing five articles.
The newspaper's publisher, Bill Hawkins, wrote in an editorial that, "Most of our local news will no longer be free on postandcourier.com for non-members. After five story views a month, visitors will be offered the opportunity to subscribe to The Post and Courier with all of the advantage benefits, or opt for a digital only subscription at $10 a month or $99 a year. Our mobile and tablet sites will be metered as well."
Allowing a limited number of free page views is a common tactic by newspaper websites with pay walls. The aim is to allow a website to still keep reader high amounts of casual reader traffic to the website from Facebook, Twitter, or other online referrals, but while still trying to bring in additional revenue from frequent local readers.
Post and Courier "Advantage Plan" members will still see online advertisements.
First Report April 27th: Frequent visitor of The Post and Courier's online home, PostAndCourier.com? Well, starting May 1, be prepared to shell out $10 per month if you'd like to view more than five articles.
NetNewsCheck.com writes that, "Beginning May 1, Postandcourier.com visitors will be limited to five free page views per month, said Gayle Smith, director of advertising at the paper. Then they will be asked to pay for its new Membership Advantage plan, at a cost ranging from $10 a month for digital-only access (Web, apps and e-edition) to $18 to $26 a month for a print plus electronic."
(You can see the whole NetNewsCheck report over here, the report talks about technology moves by traditional media in the local market and speak a little more as to why The Post and Courier is adding a pay wall.)
The Post and Courier charges $17.50 per month for a 7-times-per-week home delivery of the print edition.
The paper has yet to officially announce the start of the program and it's not clear if visiting non-article pages such as the home page, subscription information, or other pages will count against the quota.
Also not clear is how the paper will handle online link referrals — other newspapers with paywalls, such as The New York Times have allowed users to bypass the quota when coming to the site from places like Google News or links from Twitter as to not discourage casual readers of the paper.
There's been plenty of punditry on paywalls and we hear at TheDigitel have our own thoughts (and I'm much overdue to write a column on what paywalls mean for the nature of online-delivered reporting) but we'll separate the news from the commentary.
However, at TheDigitel we do recognize that some users will hit the paper's paywall, and as we often refer users to a lone source where there is clearly superior reporting. So when we recommend a reader visit The Post and Courier's content, we'll be sure to connect you with a secondary free-access source.
We hope The Sun News doesn't get any funny ideas from our this move.
We'll let you know once the paywall is officially announced.
(Fun aside: Where did I hear word about this major change in a classic traditional media publisher? Through Twitter.)