Star Tribune to Charge for Unlimited Online Access

The Minneapolis newspaper joins a growing list of news providers that are implementing an online "paywall."

The Star Tribune is the next in a series of newspapers that have chosen to charge readers for accessing online content.

The Minneapolis newspaper recently reported that it will introduce a “metered paywall” this week-which will require readers to pay a subscription fee in order to access more than 20 articles or blogs per month. (The first 20 monthly views are free.)

Star Tribune Publisher Michael Klingensmith estimated that digital subscriptions can add 8 percent to 10 percent in revenue-meaning the Minneapolis newspaper could see a $3 million to $4 million boost in sales once the new subscription model is fully implemented.

The newspaper's Web site currently lists a 99 cent-per-week subscription option for non-print subscribers to receive unlimited online access. It's $1.29 per week for the Sunday print edition and an online subscription. (A report by MinnPost, however, suggests the prices will increase after an introductory period.) Subscribers who have the newspaper delivered at least two days per week receive unlimited digital access at no additional charge.

“There was no reason not to do this from the onset [of news Web sites],” Klingensmith said. “It was a mistake to go down the path that was taken. I never saw the common sense of it, to turn your back on your subscribers.”

In its report about adopting a paywall, the Star Tribune described the news industry's historical struggles with online sales, adding that the shift to charging for digital content “has become even more critical in a technological world dominated by smartphones and digital tablets that allow readers to get their news anytime and anyplace.”

Other regional and national publications-like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Dallas Morning News-have already adopted paywalls to charge subscribers who want unlimited access to online content.