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Digital First Media announces website paywalls, but not at sltrib.com

Published November 18, 2013 4:36 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Digital First Media, the news company that manages The Salt Lake Tribune and 74 other daily papers and their websites across the country, announced Monday that it is implementing a paywall on their news sites. That is, all the websites except for The Tribune's sltrib.com.

The metered payment system will allow readers who don't subscribe to the print edition a set number of free articles a month before requiring payment. Newspaper subscribers will receive access to digital and mobile content. There will be pay increases for print subscribers.

Why is The Tribune and sltrib.com not part of the paywall, dubbed All-Access by Digital First?

We are in a very competitive news market flush with free online access to news. For us to charge for access to sltrib.com and our mobile applications at this time would be to risk losing a significant chunk of audience that easily could find local news somewhere else. We want Utahns coming to sltrib.com.

Digital First CEO John Paton, a past critic of paywalls, says he isn't sold on subscriptions as a permanent fix to financial challenges faced by the news industry.

"I do think long-term they can restrict audience growth, and that's something we'll have to be careful about," he said in DFM story about the announcement. Paton went on to say that paywalls should be used as a short-term strategy to facilitate the transition from print to digital publication.

Paton made the announcement on his blog.

The Poynter Institute's MediaWire also covered the announcement.

— Terry Orme