After years of what might be viewed as postponing the inevitable, the Yankton Press & Dakotan will officially install a metered paywall on its website beginning Tuesday, May 19.
This was a difficult decision to make, for the notion of charging a fee for online material has been a point of debate for this newspaper — and most every print publication — practically since the internet first arrived in our culture.
The Press & Dakotan has been online since the summer of 1997 and the content has always been accessible at no charge. Back then, there were debates within the newspaper industry about the practicality of charging a fee for viewing material that’s otherwise produced for the paid print product. At the outset, it was seen as more important to establish a website’s footprint online and drive traffic to it. Many newspapers took this same approach in the early days.
However, this was never a sustainable business model for the industry. Newspapers gradually began to switch over to either a “hard paywall” — which is a fee for all content — or a “metered paywall,” which allows readers a certain number of free stories per month before the fee applied. We will ask a very nominal fee for your ability to gain access to the best local news and sports coverage in the area. At just 99 cents for the first month and then just $6.99 a month thereafter, it’s a bargain.
The Press & Dakotan has chosen the latter approach. Starting Tuesday, people will be permitted three “clicks” per month until a subscription fee is required.
The paywall will apply only to locally-generated content, including local news and sports content. It will not apply to news wire content and obituaries (which are already paid items).