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Regional daily editor 'makes no apologies' for putting up paywall despite complaints

A regional daily newspaper editor has said he “makes no apologies” for putting up an online paywall, despite receiving “a raft of questions and complaints” from readers about the decision.

Portsmouth’s The News is one of two JPI Media news websites to experiment with a subscription model, the other being the Blackpool Gazette, as the publisher seeks to offset falling ad revenues.

Readers can access five free articles a week at portsmouth.co.uk or pay £2 a week, or £78 a year, for unlimited access, faster page loading times, access to the mobile app and fewer ads.

Editor Mark Waldron said in a message to readers that the news website “continues to gain new subscribers every day” after first putting up a paywall at the start of summer, although he did not reveal the figures.

But, he added: “Obviously, the move to subscriptions was never going to be universally welcomed. I have dealt with a raft of questions and complaints on the subject and I too see the comments posted on our social media feeds.

“But I make no apologies for the decision we have taken. I knew that we would not take everyone with us on this exciting new news journey but at least by complaining it did show that people cared about and enjoyed the content we provide them.

“We could just no longer sustain this as a free service.”

Waldron said his team continues to learn and shape its content to what subscribers enjoy reading about and thanked them for their support.

The News has been in print for more than 140 years.

Waldron said: “This journalism costs money and it is through the financial support of our readers that we can continue to transform our newsrooms and improve our unrivalled service to meet your needs in our past-paced digital world.”

JPI Media (formerly Johnston Press) is in talks to sell its titles, which include the Yorkshire Post, Scotsman and the i paper. As many as eight media companies are reported to be considering offers.

Comments

1 thought on “Regional daily editor 'makes no apologies' for putting up paywall despite complaints”

  1. That cold on screen message is the best example I’ve seen of how to alienate your current readers and drive them away. As if the digital sales reps job isn’t hard enough as it is this decision will make it nigh on impossible to sell to what will become a tepidly diminishing audience.
    Monetising a parochial papers news site is doomed to failure, it just doesn’t work for regional titles, but I guess someone’s got to implement one to prove the point and this could well be it.

    A risky, dangerous and desperate decision.

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