Would You Pay A News Source To Read Individual Articles Online?

When you hear a song you like, you might pay $0.99 to buy it. Or perhaps you just really need to get past this one level of Sugar Shock, so you shell out to purchase a new set of lives. What about paying a news source to read just one article? Why not? Micropayments are as ubiquitous as the smartphones we all use nowadays, and one publication thinks the model can work on an article-by-article basis.

The Winnipeg Free Press announced that it’s going to be making its debut as the first North American publication to erect a paywall that works on a per-article basis for its online version, NiemanLab reported (H/T to Engadget).

The newspaper is going to charge readers $0.27 (in Canadian currency, U.S. is about $0.21) for every article they read. There’s also going to be the option to buy a full digital subscription for $16.99 a month, and if you already subscribe to the print or e-edition of the newspaper, access is unlimited online.

What if you don’t think you’ll like paying to read for an article before you get the chance to know if you like it? New sign-ups can get a month free to test the waters and decide if it’s something they’re into.

The Free Press says it’s the first publication in North America to implement the pay-as-you-read model.

“We wanted to come up with a system that would avoid some of the problems we’ve seen in other systems — but more accurately, come up with something that works,” Free Press editor Paul Samyn told NiemanLab.

For example, some critics say there’s only a certain amount of readers who are willing to pay for online subscriptions when there’s some content available for free. The Free Press has been taking notes on these systems.

“We obviously have been watching what other newspapers have been doing with some form of paywall, and while they have had some success, I don’t think anyone has really had roaring success,” Samyn said. “What you see is their ability to grow paid digital subscriptions appears to have either stalled or only grown marginally.”

It’s a gamble — there might be some readers willing to pony up the cash each time to get their news fix, while others will simply go elsewhere for free.

What do you think?

The Winnipeg Free Press is launching a paywall that lets readers pay by the article [NiemanLab]