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Daily to publish coronavirus information for free despite paywall

Mark WaldronA regional daily’s editor has told readers it will publish “important public information” regarding coronavirus for free – but its online paywall will remain in place.

Mark Waldron, who edits Portsmouth daily The News, has confirmed readers will be be able to access such information for free via Facebook and a newsletter for registered users of its site.

But Mark, pictured, also confirmed the newspaper’s online subscription model is not changing after being quizzed on the subject by a reader.

At present, online readers of the News are entitled to five free articles per week following which subscription is required to view additional content.

Reader Scott Harris had questioned on Twitter whether The News would suspend its paywall for information regarding COVID-19.

In response, Mark wrote: “As a business we moved to subs last year and that is where we remain.

“However we will be providing important public information to readers through Facebook and our newsletters (just register on our site to get on the mailing list) which will not be behind the ‘paywall.'”

Mr Harris praised the response as “very helpful” and said The News had given “good information”.

Mark added: “Thanks Scott. Doesn’t get round the paywall but, as much as we highly value the content our trained and trusted team produce, we also have a duty to get important messages out further.”

HTFP has approached News owner JPIMedia for clarification on whether the News’ initiative is being followed across the group.

Earlier this month, Glasgow-based daily The Herald dropped its paywall for all stories about coronavirus.


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  • March 19, 2020 at 9:21 am

    The News is right to stick by its guns. News is not a free commodity.

    But there is a problem for many of the free websites. Having debased news to chase clicks and rid themselves of experienced news reporters for cheap lifestyle writers they have sold any authority they may once had down the Swanee.

    Of course, some will be brilliant, new stars will emerge. People written off by us older hacks will be at the front line reporting from the emergency services, offering insightful journalism and sensible analytical investigations.

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  • March 19, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Newspapers loved a story like this virus in times past. Long running, gripping and a million angles. Thirty years ago sales would have hit dizzy heights not seen for years but what is the impact for today’s newspapers? Probably, sales will fall even further with people staying indoors and turning to their local paper for free information. If it’s not free there are numerous other sites to feed the hunger for news. How ironic that the biggest story in decades could further damage revenues.

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  • March 19, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Sadly, I see the demise and closures of many regional newspapers, life as we know it will change significantly until a vaccine is found, going by what I have read its about 18 months away at best. In the past month the Reach share price has halved, and the Gannett share price (Newsquest) has dropped 80%.

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  • March 19, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Although not a regional newspaper, it’s probably why the Daily Mail, and presumably other nationals, are really pushing free delivery for the next six weeks. They must be worried too, despite their far deeper pockets.

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  • March 23, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Percy Hoskins I assume your last paragraph “…will be at the front line reporting from the emergency services, offering insightful journalism and sensible analytical investigations” was said with tongue firmly in cheek?
    From a kitchen table via a laptop checking PR emails and scouring social media will be the more likely scenario

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