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Durango Herald to roll out metered access to website beginning Wednesday

Amundson

The Durango Herald will embark on an all-access approach to our newspapers and website starting Wednesday.

Many of you have heard about this approach to newspapering that is sweeping the industry. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal were among the first to use it. In the last two years, more than 400 newspapers and their affiliated websites around the country – not to mention those in foreign locations – have begun to control access to their content using a metered approach.

Here’s our plan.

Starting Wednesday, regular subscribers to the print newspaper will receive access to the delivered, printed newspaper; to the e-edition; to the applications for iPad, iPhone and Android products; and to DurangoHerald.com.

Those who don’t subscribe still can buy the newspaper at newsstands and dealers and will continue to have limited access to the website. Website visitors will be able to see 10 stories per month at no charge. Once they’ve seen 10 stories in a month, they’ll be asked to subscribe to continue reading in whatever format they choose.

We’re doing this for a very simple reason. The content we provide has value to readers, and there’s a cost to produce it. Offering it for free on the website no longer makes financial sense.

The Herald spends millions of dollars annually to produce the daily news, print and deliver it. Most of that cost is payroll.

Over time, we’ve experienced a decline in paid circulation but not a decline in readership. Our most recent readership study, completed in October 2012, showed that online readership has jumped nearly 20 percentage points since 2009. We continue to reach more than 80 percent of La Plata County adults during the course of a week and nearly 90 percent in a month.

Not all of those readers are paying to receive the news, thus shifting the cost to produce it to fewer subscribers.

Existing subscribers will continue to have access to all formats of the newspaper if they choose to use them. We’ll begin to offer an online-only package for those who don’t want the print edition or are located somewhere outside our standard delivery zones. We’ll work with subscribers to provide the access they want.

The Herald remains the only place that readers can receive the depth and breadth of local coverage they need to be productive and informed residents of the community. And now that information is available in an all-access format, wherever the reader might be.

Questions? Contact me at the Herald or watch for opportunities to learn more.

Ken Amundson is general manager of newspaper operations for Ballantine Communications. He has worked in the newspaper industry for 35 years and directed newspaper Web operations since the mid-1990s.

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