Freedom Communications chose the Valley Morning Star, a small-town Texas paper with a weekday circulation of 23,000, to be the guinea pig in a paid content experiment.
The spin, from the Star: “The Valley Morning Star has been selected to be the first newspaper in a Freedom Communications’ initiative to use its online edition to boost readers’ subscription values…
“‘It will allow greater value to our many loyal print-edition subscribers by not giving away the news to non-subscribers,’ Valley Morning Star Publisher Tyler Patton said.”
Starting tomorrow, most of ValleyMorningStar.com will cost $3.95 for a month, $3.56 a month for Sunday-only subscribers, and $3.16 a month for weekend-only subscribers. The homepage, national news, obits, classifieds, and video will remain free.
Reactions from commenters were mixed.
“As for the online edition, I read it because it is free. I wouldn’t spend money on a paper newspaper that may or may not be delivered. Here I view what I want to read and I’m not coming away with ink-stained hands,” one said. “Apparently we who refuse to pay for the Internet edition will still be able to get certain news and obituaries. That’s going to have to be enough for me. I’ll get the news from the Monitor or Herald.”
“I don’t think it is unfair to charge for content no matter what method is used to deliver it,” said another commenter. “Sure, the Internet has long been a place where “everything is free” and many folks will resist having to pay for something that once was “free”. But those days will end – probably sooner than later.”
According to Alexa, the VMS’s traffic is currently running about 300,000 visitors daily. What will happen tomorrow? We’ll see.