by Dan Gibson
STLToday.com doesn't mention the Arizona Daily Star specifically, but their article discussing Lee Enterprises and their desire to put up paywalls on "most" their newspapers' websites would likely include our local daily.
Lee introduced paywalls at six newspapers in August in Montana and Wyoming that were successful, according to the company. There was not an adverse effect on digital advertising revenue at those newspapers, and page views at those six websites remain strong, Lee's chairman and executive officer Mary Junck said at Lee's annual meeting of stockholders this morning in Davenport, according to a summary of her remarks released by Lee.
At the Montana and Wyoming newspapers, readers are able to access between 15 and 20 free online story views a month. After they reach the set amount, they must pay to access a story on the paper's website. At the Billings Gazette in Billings, Montana, for example, annual digital subscriptions cost $69.50 and $19.50 annually for print subscribers, according a list of rates on its website.
Lee will introduce digital subscriptions in more Lee markets over the next three months.
While I might dispute if there are more than fifteen stories actually worth reading on the Star's site any given month (especially following the departure of Rhonda Bodfield and since I'm not generally the sort that needs to read every story about U of A sports), the really dastardly move on Lee's part would be to charge print subscribers for online access to a paper they already pay for. At least with the New York Times (which recently announced it was cutting the number of free articles available to cheapskates to ten a month), home delivery comes with online access and the use of their smartphone and tablet apps. A paywall might convince me to actually subscribe to the paper, true, but I certainly won't subscribe, pay extra for online access, then be ok with dealing with the drop-down, takeover, and pop-up ads on the Star's site.