Schenectady’s Daily Gazette announced on Tuesday they will begin charging for web content starting Aug. 3. As many larger daily newspapers toy with the idea of putting their content behind a pay wall — sources close to The New York Times confirmed last week they planned to charge readers for web access, and The Washington Post has indicated they intend to follow a similar path — the Gazette’s decision will allow papers distributed in larger cities to assess the effects of limited web access.
The Gazette’s editor, Judy Patrick, said the editorial and business staff were at odds in the past over charging readers for content, with reporters wanting their stories readily available, and business staff looking to make a profit from online articles. But she said decreased ad revenue and a downward trend in newspaper readership has made reporters more receptive to the idea of putting their content behind a pay wall if it means they will remain on staff. In the editor’s blog, Patrick writes:
We’re proud of our Web site, which reflects what we are: a small, family-owned newspaper serving the Capital Region. With that in mind, we’ve decided to change the structure of our Web site in a way that offers more information to the people who pay for our paper — our subscribers — but less information to those people who do not.
But as of Thursday night, the New York community has not embraced the decision to limit access to articles and prevent non-paying readers from posting comments: the paper is conducting an online poll asking readers if newspapers should charge for online content that shows only 10 percent supports the idea.
And given that only 168 people have participated in the poll as of Thursday night, subscriptions for interactive content don’t look promising.