It's finally come to this.
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, is planning to switch over all of its 80 community newspapers to a paid model by the end of the year, it announced during an investor day held in Manhattan Wednesday.
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
There is one Gannett title, however, that will remain free, at least for the foreseeable future: USA Today. Gannett CEO explained that decision as a matter of priorities, noting that USA Today is in the midst of overhauling its website to create a user experience more similar to that of an iPad app.
I shudder at the thought that, by year's end, we'll have to pay to read Gail Kerr's columns.
However, while paying a premium for premium news content à la The New York Times makes sense, will news consumers pay a premium for the decidedly non-premium product that the Gannett Co. churns out of its atrophied regional news organs as the company's executives give themselves bonuses for razing the fourth estate? What say you?