Crain’s Chicago Business follows local news trend with paywall

May 21, 2012

Jewell Washington

Another major local news outlet is placing its website behind a metered subscription plan.

Crain’s Chicago Business is following the Daily Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times in charging readers to access online articles. Its readers will be able to access 12 online articles for free each month, but after that they will have to pay $59 for an annual subscription.

Rich Gordon is a Northwestern professor and director of digital innovation. He said the paywalls are not meant to be prohibitive or scare readers away, but to kick in when someone becomes a regular user.

“It’s to appeal to their higher sense that this is content worth paying for and asking them to fork over some money to get the value from it,” he said.

Crain’s has already been charging readers for online access to its print articles since 2001. The new paywall will charge readers $99 for access to both digital and print content. Crain’s says current print subscribers can upgrade their subscriptions to include digital access free of charge for a limited time.

“I think all news organizations across the country realize that in order to sustain quality journalism ... readers need to start paying for content online," Crain's publisher David Snyder said. "Just like they’ve been required to pay for that great content in print for years."

Snyder said the paywall will apply to all of its content. It is expected to begin June 14.