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Newspaper introduces online paywall as office space halved

A daily newspaper has introduced an online paywall in a move which its owner says will help “define” its strategy ahead of a potential wider rollout of the idea.

The Scotsman has announced it is introducing the subscription model already being trialled at JPIMedia sister dailies The Gazette, in Blackpool, and The News, in Portsmouth.

JPIMedia launched the scheme with an introductory offer of a £1 per month for three months on the sites, and other titles are set to follow in due course.

Readers will be able to access five free articles per week before being asked to pay, with individual subscriptions being required for each title they wish to access.

The Scotsman's Orchard Brae House headquarters

The Scotsman’s Orchard Brae House headquarters

Asked about potential further roll-out of the paywall plan across the group, a JPIMedia spokesman indicated that the outcome of the current paywall experiment would determine whether or not this went ahead.

The spokesman told HTFP: “We are currently focused on understanding the propensity for users to subscribe. The results will help define what our subscription strategy should be across the rest of the business.”

Announcing the change, Scotsman editor Frank O’Donnell said in a message to readers: “The Scotsman is proud to be the trusted source of independent, high-quality journalism for our readers, a position we’ve held for 200 years.

“From those early days of print to now ensuring you have all today’s news and information at your fingertips on your mobile phone, we have transformed our newsroom.

“And we will continue to adapt and evolve our unrivalled service to meet your needs in our fast-paced digital world. We love providing you with the news and we trust that you want to stay on this journey with us.

“But quality journalism costs money and so today we are calling on the support of our loyal readers to sustain this by subscribing to our scotsman.com website.”

Those who subscribe will see fewer advertisements, get access to The Scotsman’s newsletters and have free access to its app.

Frank added: “With an increase in unregulated content and sometimes inaccurate news made available through social media it is more important than ever that our regulated and trusted voice remains loud and clear – and talking for you.

“At The Scotsman, we do not just report on our local communities. We are part of our local communities. We care about what you care about, we enjoy doing what you enjoy doing.

“You are at the centre of what we do – and so from today we will be counting on your continued support. Paying for news is an investment in the future of our communities, our local economy and democracy.”

The paywall move comes after it was reported JPIMedia was set to close half the office space used by staff working for The Scotsman, Evening News and Scotland on Sunday.

According to the Daily Business, the two floors the titles have occupied at their Orchard Brae headquarters since 2014 will be reduced to one.

JPIMedia declined to comment on the office space closure.

12 comments

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  • June 12, 2019 at 1:28 pm
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    I’m sorry but asking people to pay to access local news online is just not going to work in a day and age when they can get what they want for free from social media. Just ask The Guardian who this year finally turned a modest £800,000 operating profit for the first time in 20 years – compared to a £57m loss in the three years previous.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm
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    Paywalls for regional titles simply don’t work, it’s the digital equivalent of putting the cover price up and all it will do is drive existing users and site traffic away which will drive numbers down and be even less appealing to any potential advertisers.
    Monetising the news is a non starter as folk can get all they need readily available elsewhere and for free, it’s a commercial issue where the site usage,visitors and exclusivity of the content are the key saleable factors, the worrying thing is no publisher has been able to turn traffic to cash after years of trying and none look likely to do so anytime soon.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 2:08 pm
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    If you’re going to do it, commit to it. Don’t ditch it after three months because you don’t immediately attract 20,000 subscribers. Consumers are getting used to making small payments and donations online to bloggers, YouTube streamers, music streaming services, even newspapers (see the Guardian). This *can* work but it will require patience and proper marketing. Changing behaviours is difficult but not impossible.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 3:07 pm
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    FormerJourno, The Guardian’s profit is smoke and mirrors as it doesn’t include the £29m taken from their Scott Trust Endowment Fund. So in reality made a £28.2m loss

    Local media paywalls won’t work as their content is beyond poor. The Scotsman’s Facebook page posts show how poor their content and writers are. It will never work.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 4:14 pm
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    JPI will have to up their game massively on-line, the Lancashire Post being an obvious case in point.
    On Saturday night, the BBC website reported that a Preston woman who had been bitten by a dog had died. The Post still had the unfortunate woman seriously ill in hospital and it took them at least three hours to catch up.
    People will not tolerate such shoddy, slow off the mark journalism, let alone pay for it.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm
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    My JPI website is still running a big story about an event in Halifax which was cancelled on my birthday – April 28. There is no way I’m going to pay on-line to keep reading it.

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  • June 13, 2019 at 12:20 pm
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    Online content has to be paid for by advertising wholly in order to make it work. People do not expect to pay, end of. I honestly do not believe there is any mileage in subscriptions. If there is, then the content must be excellent.

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  • June 13, 2019 at 1:46 pm
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    I’m fed up of newspaper groups going on about their trusted news/brands. If that was the case 80 to 90% of customers wouldn’t have stopped buying newspapers.

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  • June 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm
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    Nationals can implement small paywalls as their content is perceived to be of value and worth paying to read, sadly majority of the content on regional daily press sites is poor and often old news previously seen elsewhere so will not attract paid for subscriptions.
    Yes if it’s free and appears on the papers FB pages to attract clicks it will attract free views, expect people to pay to read it? sorry it just won’t happen.

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  • June 13, 2019 at 2:10 pm
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    If even the Sun failed to make a paywall work, what hope has JPI? They will be lucky to attract 100 subscribers for most titles and for that they will lose advertisers, because who is going to pay good money for such a small readership?

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  • June 13, 2019 at 5:05 pm
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    How does Frank O’Donnell square his guff about high-quality journalism with the current round of redundancies?

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  • June 18, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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    Back in the day Newspapers made their money out of motors, jobs, properties. This model died with Right Move etc – you’ll never replace this by trying to make money out of content – which I’d argue has never been the money generator for newspapers. The newspapers could have made their own jobs, motors and house websites when they had the chance and the content, but it was too late.

    When the online advertisers realised that most people drop adblock on to make the content readable they’ll wise up and the money will dry up.

    What they should do is try and take a risk, they need the online equivalent of jobs, motors and properties, something different and diverse – no one pays for the stories anymore too easily available elsewhere and a lot of the content is the same.

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