Chicago Tribune to leap over pay wall


Author: Lynne Marek
Coverage Type: reporting
Location:
Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611, United States

The Chicago Tribune is mulling a plan to charge online readers premiums for different kinds of content, a structure similar to the fee it charges for the print literary magazine it introduced this year.

The city's largest newspaper is charting an unusual path as it aims to start charging online readers as early as July, although the details and timing are still in flux, according to sources. The Chicago Sun-Times started charging online readers in December. Crain's Chicago Business will introduce a metered subscription plan in June. While most newspapers have rolled out online metered systems that ask readers to pay for general access after viewing a certain number of pages free, the Tribune's approach would put a price tag on extra coverage in a particular area, such as sports, entertainment or literary news. The paper's experiment comes as the industry wrestles with declining print subscriptions and ad revenue and as its parent company seeks to exit bankruptcy. “The idea that there are some niches that some people would pay extra to get more is viable,” says Rich Gordon, a journalism professor at Northwestern University. “The question is, how many niches are there and how big are they?”

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