Reprinted with permission from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
While large dailies have been slow to embrace the concept of charging for online news content, smaller newspapers have quietly led the way in introducing paid subscription models in the United States.
Nearly half the publishers of small dailies contacted in a recent University of Missouri survey have begun charging for online content.
In more than 300 phone interviews with publishers of daily U.S. newspapers, 46 percent of publishers of daily newspapers under 25,000 circulation now require payment for at least some of their online content. Among newspapers with greater than 25,000 circulation, 24 percent now charge.
The survey was based on a random sample of all 1,390 U.S. dailies, and 301 interviews were conducted April 1-18 by the Missouri School of Journalism's RJI Insight and Survey Center. The response rate was 78 percent.
Underlying the move to begin charging is a strong belief that audiences will pay to consume quality news content. Two-thirds of the publishers believe customers will pay. Only 14 percent agreed with the statement, "I don't believe we'll ever be able to get customers to pay for online content."
That confidence is reflected in the plans of publishers who have not implemented paid subscription models.