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Wednesday October 22, 2014

Queens Newspaper Offers Competitive Pay Wall — Since 2003

With big names like The New York Times, Newsday and The Wall Street Journal all with digital subscriptions for their readers, one NY community newspaper has had a functional paywall since 2003 — The Wave.  The paper, one of the city’s oldest since 1893, serves the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.

For the last nine years, online subscribers to The Wave have had to pay to receive the digital version of the paper.  For $20 a year, online subscribers can have full access to the paper.  Sanford Bernstein, GM, said to City Room, “if you don’t do it, what you’re saying is your news doesn’t have value. You shouldn’t diminish your news value by giving it out for free,” of The Wave’s pay wall.

Bernstein noted that he is not looking to online revenue to save the paper and some of The Wave’s customers have both online access and print.  Stephen Larson, founder of Our Hometown Inc., who puts weeklies like The Wave online is pushing for Bernstein to up the price of the pay wall.  He tells City Room, “Every time I talk to him [Bernstein] I say you know you can get more for this.”

For archived stories, Bernstein does not charge readers.  “We don’t want to keep people from doing research.”

City Room (NYTimes.com)