A weekly newspaper has introduced a micro-paywall as the National Union of Journalists marks its annual Local News Matters week.
The Rotherham Advertiser, which currently only provides “limited” news on its website, will now publish more council, court and sports stories, as well as columns, online.
Most of its articles, with the exceptions of breaking news and small overnight updates, will now cost 20p to read with readers charged a maximum of 40p per day.
The title, which was founded in 1858 and is owned by South Yorkshire publisher Regional Media, is using digital wallet Axate to run the service, joining 12 other local papers currently using the same model.
Editor Andrew Mosley told readers the paywall was necessary to “sustain and build on our commitment to quality journalism at a time when the reduced number of advertisers supporting the paper alone does not fund this”.
Mosley claimed the Advertiser sells more than 15,000 copies a week but said it is facing “obvious challenges” with revenue as a lot of readers now choose its online offering over the paper which brings in more money.
He wrote: “This move will enable us to continue the fight to make Rotherham’s voice louder.
“It may be that this move won’t be popular with everyone, so I wanted to fully explain our thinking.
“When you sign up you can be safe in the knowledge you are helping quality, sustainable journalism and that the money we make from this won’t be going into the pockets of shareholders.”
Mosley’s appeal for readers’ understanding came during the NUJ’s Local News Matters week, which began on Saturday to encourage journalists to speak out about the value of local journalism.
Its aim is to defend and promote quality work including public service broadcasting and court reporting.
Also this week, Bureau Local, set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2017 to build a network of journalists investigating stories that matter to communities, has launched a project aimed at bringing people together who can “reimagine” local news.
The “change the story” project is running a three-month advisory group made up of journalists and engaged citizens, hosting a gathering in Hull to talk about the issues involved, and publishing a newsletter to engage a wider community with the process.
Bureau Local’s community organiser Rachel Hamada said: “…we are only one part of the puzzle. The Bureau Local isn’t a solution to the challenges facing local news, it’s part of a solution that involves many people and projects.
“We want to listen to ideas just as much as to share them, and we value all expertise: knowledge, skills and experience.
“So the next step is to throw this process open wider to even more people, and to work together to reimagine local news so that it is valuable to citizens and valued by them.”