Toronto Star to launch paywall in 2013
The Toronto Star has announced it will make the move to a paid-subscription model for its online content beginning in 2013.
Publisher John Cruickshank published a letter to readers today announcing the paywall. Details surrounding the specifics of it were sparse, though Cruickshank did say the newspaper, whose print distribution is the biggest in the country, would be expanding its content both in print and online.
“Most print subscribers to the Toronto Star” will receive access to the paper’s online content for no additional charge, Cruickshank wrote. He was not clear whether or not the paywall would be metered, allowing users a set number of free articles per month, or whether stories on thestar.com would be accessible to non-subscribers via search and social media. This is the model that other newspapers have taken with their respective paywalls, including the oft-cited success story of The New York Times, as well as major Canadian dailies such as, Postmedia’s Montreal Gazette, The Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun, Victoria’s Times-Colonist and most recently, The Globe and Mail.
The cost to non-print subscribers and other print subscribers will be announced in coming months.
"As our digital content evolves and becomes more extensive, we believe it is necessary to supplement our print and online circulation and advertising revenues with digital subscription revenues," Cruickshank wrote. "These additional revenues will strengthen our ability to invest in quality journalism, both in print and online, and provide the high quality of news, information and opinion that our readers throughout the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada have come to expect from the Star."
As Cruickshank noted, part of its content expansion has already begun with four new reporting beats – health, the environment, science and technology and global economics – having been introduced last month. Managing editor Jane Davenport told J-Source more about these reporting beats in a recent interview. “The idea of these beats is that they have a strong digital focus and that they really look outward and past the borders of the GTA,” Davenport said. “I think that's something we're going to be able to offer our readers that broaden our international coverage and kind of the global perspective that we're able to give readers.”
Paywalls are not new to Star parent company Torstar. It owns The Hamilton Spectator, which has been charging for its online content since September 2011.
The Star’s announcement comes just days after Postmedia announced it would put its remaining papers – including the National Post – behind a paywall in 2013 as well.