This has been a busy week of website news for the state’s two biggest news organizations: The Boston Globe is opening up the wall around its site, while GateHouse Media is putting up paywalls on some of its local sites for the first time.
The shift at the Globe to what’s known as a metered paywall — in which non-subscribers can access a limited number of stories behind the wall — is more than just a change in circulation strategy. Under new owner John Henry, the Globe is embarking on the biggest changes to its online presence since the paper created a second website aimed at locking up stories behind a paywall in 2011.
GateHouse, though, is taking a more tentative approach. As first reported by Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy, GateHouse is trotting out metered paywalls at its websites for the MetroWest Daily News, Milford Daily News and Brockton Enterprise. Users will be able to get up to 15 free articles each month before they’re asked to pony up for a subscription. This is downright generous compared to the stingy three clicks per month* allowed at the Cape Cod Times and Standard-Times of New Bedford, which GateHouse’s parent company recently acquired from Dow Jones. A different model will be tried at GateHouse’s Herald News in Fall River that provides basic versions of stories to casual readers and more in-depth news to paying “members.” In the past, GateHouse has withheld some of its stories from online audiences, dubbing them “print extra.” (I previously worked at GateHouse’s Patriot Ledger in Quincy.) But this is the first evidence of paywalls among GateHouse’s Massachusetts media.