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Reach becomes latest regional publisher to launch online paywall trial

Wayne AnkersReach plc has become the latest regional publisher to implement a pay-as-you-read paywall trial.

The regional publisher has launched the pilot on Examiner Live, the website of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, which will see readers pay up to £1 a week to read selected articles.

Breaking news and traffic and travel information will remain free, as well as some court and crime stories.

The selected articles will cost 25p each to read, with all content becoming free for the rest of the week once four stories have been paid for.

Reach has launched the trial with digital payment service Axate, which enables news titles to implement paywalls without requiring website users to take out subscriptions.

Last month Iliffe Media launched a pay-as-you-read system via Axate at seven of its titles, while the Newbury Weekly News and Cornwall Reports have also previously implemented paywalls using the service.

In a message to readers, Examiner editor Wayne Ankers, pictured, said: “It is no secret that over the last ten years the journalism industry has faced serious challenges, especially at a regional level. This has been no different for the Examiner with many of our traditional sources of revenue shrinking dramatically.

“We employ local journalists and advertising staff who really care about what happens in the area and are dedicated to bringing you the highest quality of news coverage that they can. For years our customers have paid for a newspaper but people have become accustomed to receiving news online for free.

“However our journalism costs money to produce. Thanks to our website we are reaching more people than ever before each day but continuing to give away our content for free is difficult to sustain.

“That is why we have launched a trial with Axate – a micropayments system used by other websites across the country – which will allow you to pay for selected content although many of our articles will remain free of any charge.”

Reach has confirmed only Examiner Live will be implementing the paywall at present.

Ed Walker, senior editor for Reach Regionals, told HTFP: “It’s essential that local journalism keeps learning and adapting, and in that spirit we look forward to working with Axate, the Examiner Live team, and our readers while we trial this micropayments service.

12 comments

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  • September 4, 2019 at 12:42 pm
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    Here we go again, yet another publisher over estimating the size of their online audience and believing their online content is of sufficient value for people to pay for it.

    If something loses its appeal as in” with many of our traditional sources of revenue shrinking dramatically” it should tell them their former audience has found alternatives elsewhere, other sources of news and more effective places to advertise, therefore putting up a paywall won’t make lapsed users return nor will it encourage current users to pay to access “ selects content”

    It’s a desperate action and one, which to me and I’m sure many others, indicates them having run out of credible revenue generating ideas and is a last roll of the dice.

    If this doesn’t work what then?

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  • September 4, 2019 at 1:26 pm
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    I really hope this works, though, I suspect it won’t deliver anything remotely meaningful.

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  • September 4, 2019 at 1:57 pm
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    Cue this being quietly forgotten about in a few months.

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  • September 4, 2019 at 2:27 pm
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    Wayne Ankers why don’t you just save your resources and switch off the website? It’s never going to pay its way.

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  • September 4, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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    Come on editor Ankers,have the courage of your convictions and if you genuinely believe people will pay to view your special content do away with the trial and get 100% behind a full blown launch.

    The only problem with half hearted trials is if they don’t work it’s a huge vote of no confidence in the ‘selected articles’ that not enough are prepared to pay the £1 per week to view them and if it fails to take off there’s nowhere left to go.

    Perhaps HTFP could follow this story up and let us know the results of the scheme in a few months time, I’d be genuinely interested to know, as no doubt, would other publishers who are considering launching paywalls themselves.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 10:35 am
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    I really hope this scheme works for the sake of Mr Ankers as it looks like he and his titles are being used as a guinea pig here

    Btw, It won’t work

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:57 am
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    The crucial phrase, it seems to me, is “dedicated to bringing you the highest quality of news coverage that they can”. Which, given the resources available to Reach’s regional titles after repeated rounds of redundancies, sadly means “not very”.
    My sympathies to all those affected.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 2:52 pm
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    And why would you pay for something from sites that don’t have news from your area anymore or is hard to find. Focus and personalisation could make paywalls work but not with the current service offering.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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    Doesn’t look too happy about it, does he? For the sake of people with rents and mortgages to meet I hope it works, but I too fear it won’t.

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  • September 6, 2019 at 1:31 pm
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    Why didn’t Reach trial this scheme on a title which is performing relatively well to see if they can maximise revenues from an audience who might be more inclined to pay for additional content rather than one which by the editors own admission is struggling?

    Does Wayne Ankers honestly believe The Examiner,which he says has seen revenue sources shrinking dramatically, and is currently free to view online will suddenly find enough people who deem its selected articles to be worth paying money here and there to read?

    It’s not realistic and in my view is doomed to failure from the start

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  • September 6, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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    It’s a vicious circle. Fewer reporters means there is less time to follow up or investigate properly stories that may be of interest. Instead reporters (what’s left of them) often have to throw in anything they can find. Not criticising them but criticising management for thinking good stories grow on trees and that readers are rushing out to buy the papers. Long gone are the days when I worked on the T&S in Bradford too many moons ago and people would be waiting at the back door for the paper – esp on a Saturday.

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