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Johnston Press: Dismantled paywalls are part of year of ‘discovery’

April 1st, 2010Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

We’re sure Johnston Press sub-editors on the brink of losing their jobs and staff enjoying an ongoing pay freeze will be glad to know it’s all part of a year of “discovery” for the company.

Yesterday it was reported by HoldtheFrontPage and Press Gazette that local newspaper pay walls, first introduced as part of a three month trial at the end of last year, were coming down.

The Southern Reporter, Northumberland Gazette and Whitby Gazette are no longer offering paid subscriptions and have opened up their content in full. It is not clear if the other titles in the trial will continue to restrict their content online (Carrick Gazette, Worksop Guardian and Ripley and Heanor News were experimenting with directing readers back to the newspaper after a summary of each story).

There are reports of very low subscription rates indeed. HTFP reports:

[A] a source at one of the titles involved in the trial said it had been a “disaster” and that the number of people subscribing had been in single figures.

But Johnston Press refused to reveal any more details: of subscription rates or its future plans. A spokesperson said:

We are not commenting on the test results. We see this year as one of discovery as we test various ideas and learn from the experience of others.

Last week we noted on this blog that despite the redundancies and pay freeze Johnston Press’ top bosses were taking home rather juicy pay packages for 2009 – significantly bigger than those in 2008.

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