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Weekly ends ‘pay if you can’ paywall amid plans for post-lockdown growth

A weekly newspaper has ended a voluntary “pay if you can” paywall scheme introduced to help readers during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Maidenhead Advertiser has returned to the mandatory pay-as-you-read system it operates for access to “premium articles” as it prepares to return staff from furlough leave and increase the size of its print edition following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Advertiser has also announced it will be phasing out the free online edition of the paper, another temporary innovation introduced during lockdown, in the coming weeks.

Editor James Preston announced the changes in an editorial in which he thanked readers for their support during the pandemic.

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James wrote: “I know some readers have been disappointed by the size of the newspaper, but please be reassured that nobody wants to see the Advertiser grow more than us.

Covid-19 has not gone away and the financial situation remains challenging but, as businesses reopen and begin to advertise again, the time is right to work towards that goal.

“Over the coming months, we intend to slowly increase the Advertiser’s size and bring back furloughed staff to boost our news output. It will not happen overnight, and it must be sustainable, but we remain hopeful the ’Tiser can grow once again.

“Good quality news coverage takes time and money to produce, and reader support is vital now and in the months ahead.

“To help realise our ambitions, we will be returning to our previous system of charging for the premium articles on our website from next week.”

The Advertiser’s paywall, operated using the Axate system, allows readers full access to the site for 20p per day.

James added: “We will also be phasing out the free online edition of the newspaper over the coming weeks as we look to grow and pack your weekly paper with news, sport and entertainment.

“This may not be popular with everyone, but news is not free to produce and financial sustainability is essential for growth.

“Don’t forget, at least 80 per cent of our profits go back into the community through the Louis Baylis Trust and every time you buy a newspaper or pay for an article online you are supporting trusted journalism.”

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