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Az Republic rolling out paywall

Online subscription systems easy to get around

The Arizona Republic will institute a paywall for its website, beginning Sept. 10, the newspaper said Sunday. Digital access to the Republic will cost readers $10 per month.

Non-subscribers will be able to read up to 20 articles per month without buying a subscription, the newspaper said.

Print subscriptions will also cost more. "Most subscribers will see an increase of 7 cents to 25 cents a day," the newspaper said in an article headlined "The Arizona Republic changes access to content."

The system newspaper chain Gannett has employed at its other newspapers is simple to evade. Private browsing in Firefox or Safari or clearing cookies associated with the paywall effectively resets the article counter to zero.

The Republic said its online subscriptions will not be a paywall; the standard industry term for charging Internet readers doesn't resonate well with consumers. Instead, "(t)here will be a metered approach to accessing content via digital platforms," the newspaper said.

A Monday morning email from the Republic brass reiterated that point.

"It’s not a pay wall it’s a metered that allows all users, regardless whether they subscribe or not to use azcentral on a limited basis (sic)," wrote Chris Stegman, vice president of advertising.

"The home page as well as all index pages do not count towards the 20, nor does it count if you come into azcentral off of facebook or search," Stegman noted.

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The FAQ on the plan put out by the Republic is somewhat contradictory:

If I currently subscribe but don't want online access, will I be affected?

There is no longer a subscription offer to just a portion of The Republic's content. The subscription offers are to full access to The Republic's news and information content on all platforms.

But:

Consumers who choose a Full Access digital-only subscription will pay $10 a month.

The Republic's article on the digital subscription roll-out quotes a bevy of bigwigs from the newspaper and its owners, along with a few paywall boosters—including a paywall system vendor. Absent are any of the numerous critics of charging online readers.

Closer to home, the Arizona Daily Star is also likely to roll out a paywall soon; that paper's owner, publishing chain Lee Enterprises, has been building paywalls at newspapers across the country.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Republic readers could read 10 pages monthly without the paywall kicking in. That figure has been corrected to 20.


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