Updated below with details on pricing and access.
The Seattle Times in mid-March will join the growing legions of daily newspapers that charge for unrestricted access to their primary websites, according to a column by Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman in an advance edition of the Sunday newspaper.
“The math no longer adds up,” writes Boardman in the column, which isn’t yet available online. “We need to evolve in the way we do business, just as we have in the way we deliver our content to you.”
[Update, 10:45 p.m.: Boardman’s column is now online.]
Digital subscriptions to seattletimes.com will be available at no extra charge to existing and new print subscribers, according to the column. Subscriptions will include access to the newspaper’s smartphone and tablet apps.
Standalone digital subscriptions will also be available for purchase by people who don’t subscribe to the print edition. Boardman’s column doesn’t give the planned prices for standalone digital subscriptions.
Readers who don’t subscribe will still be able to access seattletimes.com “on a limited basis,” writes Boardman. “But if you visit the site repeatedly, you will ultimately encounter a barrier requiring enrollment.”
“Of course, we realize that nobody likes having to pay for something they’ve been receiving for free,” he writes. “But we believe that if you stop for just a moment to contemplate how important The Times is to the vitality and civility of the Puget Sound region, you might even feel good about your contribution to sustaining the content you value.”
Update, 11:20 p.m.: Seattle Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie provided these details on the pricing for standalone digital subscriptions: “There will be an introductory offer @ $.99/week for 4 weeks. The regular pricing will be $3.99/week.”
On the question of how much content non-subscribers will be able to access, Mackie says it’s “a more complex answer than you might think.” She explains, “It really depends on the content used by individuals. The Seattletimes.com home page, comics, index pages, photo galleries, video content, entertainment listings, paid listings and the classified sights will be unmetered. Metered content includes news and opinion content, blogs and live chats. The mix of metered and unmetered content the individual uses will determine how much content they will see before encountering the paywall. Infrequent users or users of unmetered content will likely not be impacted by this change.”