Chicago Tribune launches paywall

November 1, 2012

Judith Ruiz-Branch

Online users browsing the Chicago Tribune’s website will now hit a paywall.

The new plan is in place after years of financial struggle. Starting Thursday, the Tribune is charging $14.99 per month for an online subscription. If users sign up soon, they'll get the first month free as a promotion the Tribune is offering. Seven-day newspaper subscribers automatically get the digital subscription for free if they link their account online. Subscribers who get newspapers under seven days, will be able to buy a digital subscription for $0.49 per day.

Vice president for digital development and operations at the Tribune, Bill Adee, says the new paywall is nothing more than asking users to pay for quality journalism like investigative stories.

“When you look at some of the unique opinions that we have, whether they be Chris Jones on theater, David Hall on sports, Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Schmich, those are the kinds of things, we feel like, are worth paying for,” he said.

Adee said the breaking news page will still be free for all users. He said the Tribune has added a lot of updates to the site including new content, e-books and access to Apple applications and archives among other additions.

“I felt like just putting a wall around content that has been free for fifteen years, didn’t seem like much of a way to go at it,” Adee said. “We really wanted to build out many, many benefits for anyone who became a paying digital subscriber.”

Adee said keeping the website’s traffic up is the main goal right now. The Tribune started requiring users to register on the website back in June. Since then, Adee said 300,000 new users have registered. Registered users will now get access to five premium stories per month.  

“Getting people to register to see our stories and get other benefits worked pretty well, worked way better than we ever thought it would,” Adee said.

Now, he said, the Tribune will wait and see how this new chapter unfolds for them.