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Regional daily says online subscription move will ‘pay for quality journalism’

A daily newspaper has explained its decision to introduce a paywall on its website – saying it will to help “pay for quality journalism.”

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus has published a piece about the move, which sees readers pay if they wish to access more than 20 articles per month, excluding breaking news stories and some court reports.

The Telegraph & Argus has told readers that “every newspaper has experienced a decline in advertising revenue, yet the cost of our journalism remains the same.”

The T&A said the switch had been made “along with a number of other news titles” and HTFP has approached the paper’s owner Newsquest to ask whether any of its other titles will be implementing the model, but has not yet received a response.

TA newsroom

The paper has now explained the move, which took place in April, in an article responding to readers’ “most frequently asked questions.”

Readers are entitled to 10 free articles per month, after which they will be asked to register their details to access another 10 free articles.

Anyone who wishes to read more than 20 articles has the option of a 21-day free trial to a ‘Premium’ package, providing them with “unlimited and advert-light access”, which costs £4.99 per month after the free trial unless the subscription is cancelled.

Some stories, including major breaking news stories and some court reports remain free to all users and not count towards the article limit.

In a section headed ‘Why is a paywall necessary?’, the T&A wrote: “In the past, the cover price of a newspaper helped pay for the journalists who wrote the news and features inside. Advertising also contributed to the bottom line.

“It is no secret that in the last few years every newspaper has experienced a decline in advertising revenue, yet the cost of our journalism remains the same.

“The subscription model will help pay for the quality journalism that provides unrivalled coverage of Bradford and the surrounding district. No other news organisation comes close to the depth of coverage of the T&A.

“We are the only news site with reporters in court and council every day. We cover all the breaking news in the district and write about the people and personalities that make Bradford the great city it is.”

The explainer has been published following a spate of moves towards paywall models within the industry in recent weeks.

Last month the Newbury Weekly News introduced a non-subscription paywall for readers wishing to access premium articles – a system which has since been brought in on a trial basis by seven Iliffe newspapers in the East of England.

August also saw subscription-based sports website The Athletic go live in the UK after poaching a dozen regional journalists ahead of its launch.

HTFP reported lat week how Mark Waldron, editor of Portsmouth daily The News, had thanked readers who had subscribed after a paywall trial was launched by its owner JPIMedia.


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  • August 27, 2019 at 9:18 am

    If it’s worth paying for, people will pay for it. If not… people aren’t stupid and Yorkshire folk aren’t exactly renowned for squandering their hard-earned.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 10:02 am

    The T and A must be the only paper in the country where journalism costs have remained the same. Everywhere else subs, photographers, reporters have been cut significantly. So well done to the management at the T and A. So, 20 free articles and lots of stories free. I bet 99 pc of people will say that’s enough for me and will top up their free local news from elsewhere.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    “Quality journalism” should be the sole focus of the editorial staff,if not the entire company, not chasing clicks, scanning social media for stories or expecting journalists to provide iPhone snaps in place of a professional photographer, so having to put up a paywall to fund this basic shows just how off kilter the priorities and focus have become.
    It’s no different to the same excuses given for increasing cover charges yet how often do we see a frantic improvement in journalism or real audience growth when the price is increased?

    A news paywall is not practical for a regional title when there are many other free news options for local people and ultimately will do more harm than good.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Except it won’t “pay for quality journalism” will it?
    Newsquest isn’t interested in quality journalism, only the bottom line profit, which they hope will be boosted by income from a paywall.
    There’s only one problem with that, there simply aren’t enough original news stories – most NQ sites are filled with regurgitated press releases and ‘stories’ nicked off FB/Twitter/Instagram.
    I took the time to read three stories in the Lancashire Telegraph website in the last week that I had a personal interest in.
    All three had basic errors such as misspelled or incorrect names- who is going to pay good money for that standard of reporting?

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  • August 27, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    I would like to see HTFP follow up this latest batch of titles imposing paywalls by publishing the actual number of subscriptions and associated revenues each has attained
    Whilst the model works well for national dailies with their long form features, well known respected columnist and contributors and the use of top notch professional photographers, the regional model is a complete non starter, particularly if the current level of online content and click bait pieces are anything to go by.

    I’ll stand corrected though once significant subscription figures are produced ,until then I’ll stick to my view that it’s a last desperate roll of the dice when all other credible commercial options have failed to monetise online news.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    If you don’t recognise social media as a legitimate newsgathering tool you should consider your future in this industry

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  • August 28, 2019 at 11:05 am

    “We are the only news site with reporters in court and council every day…”
    Only because the BBC funds their local democracy reporters.

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  • August 28, 2019 at 11:42 am

    West Yorks Analyst is right in that Bradford – along with almost all Newsquest centres – has suffered serious cuts to its editorial staff over many years. The last reported figures which included the Bradford, Darlington and York Newsquest centres was a fall in total editorial staff from 67 reported in 2014 to just 52 in 2016 – a 22% drop. And during these years the accounts show the wages and salaries bill fell from £5.8 million to £4.4 million. This was not only from loss of jobs but also that pay effectively stood still for those remaining with allowances and mileage cut. So the phrase “yet the cost of our journalism remains the same” is not the full picture.

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  • August 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    I can appreciate ailing regional publishers need to explore other revenue opportunities following the huge loss in copy sales and advertising revenues but a paywall around parochial paper sites?
    It’s doomed to failure from the off.

    Publishers seriously over estimate the size of their online audience as well as fooling themselves ( and their peers) into believing how popular and essential they are as first news providers, times have changed.

    The public get their local news online by picking and choosing from the many sites out there including localised public run Facebook groups who are often the first to break the news these days.

    They themselves are their eyes and ears in the community and where once they’d call the local paper with a story now they post directly to a FB group, this is often then picked up by the local rag to rewrite and post some time later by which time it’s no longer news.

    There’s no brand loyalty any longer and in austere times people simply won’t pay for what they can get elsewhere for free.

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