The Washington Post, one of the last top US newspapers to offer its content free of charge online, will likely begin collecting fees next year, a report said Thursday.
The Post is planning to roll out a “metered paywall,” meaning the subscription cost will kick in after readers access a certain number of stories for free, said The Wall Street Journal, another leading US paper.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said the new fees would not start for another six months at least.
With newspapers under pressure from declining print circulation and advertising, publishers are struggling to get revenues from websites that had been mostly free.
But Don Graham, the chairman of the Washington Post Co., had argued against a paywall for his newspaper, saying again at an investor conference this week that the Post could stand to lose advertising revenue by limiting its readers to subscribers, the Journal reported.
“We haven’t found (a paywall model) that actually adds profits immediately,” Graham was cited as saying.
“But we’re going to continue to study every model of paywall and think about that, as well as thinking about keeping it free.”
The Post’s executive editor Marcus Brauchli is stepping down at the end of this year, to be replaced by Boston Globe editor Martin Baron, and there were reports clashes over budget issues contributed to the shake-up.
Brauchli will become vice president of The Washington Post Company with responsibility for evaluating new media opportunities.
The Wall Street Journal has long charged for online access.
The New York Times began charging in March 2011 for full access to NYTimes.com and it launched a subscription-only website for The Boston Globe in October that year.