Journalism Online’s Pay System Getting Real

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Journalism Online’s pay system to charge for online newspaper content is “just weeks away” from a real-world launch with several publications ready to roll it out later this winter, JO’s principals Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz said in a memo to participating and potential publishers Tuesday.

“The first publishers planning to launch on the Platform are currently integrating our software, in anticipation of offering paid access later this winter when our consumer-facing logo, Press+, will be presented to the public,” Brill and Crovitz wrote. “Most are using some version of the metered model, though all are deploying their own variations. For example, one is combining the metered approach with the segmenting option; another is combining the out-of-market targeting with the meter; and a non-profit affiliate will combine the meter with a support campaign.”

The memo was first reported by Staci D. Kramer at

Separately, The New York Times reported in a story by Richard Perez-Pena that The Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster (Pa.) New Era is preparing to launch Press+ on its site. The New Era is using a metered approach and at first will charge only out-of-area visitors to the site who are viewing obituaries. After a certain number of obits have been accessed, users will be prompted to pay a flat fee to view more, the Times reported.

In their memo to “affiliates,” Brill and Crovitz said the time is right for the launch of a pay system.

“Our industry is adapting, and it’s now clear that many sites, large and small, will be soon be charging their most engaged online readers for access,” the memo said, noting the Times has announced its intention to roll out an online pay meter. “Studies show that readers will pay for distinctive brands and content,” the memo added.

“In short, the question is no longer ‘if,’ but ‘when’ and ‘how.,'” Brill and Crovitz wrote. “And our initial launch publishers are poised to begin answering those questions — which means we’ll be ready to equip you with market intelligence and experience so that you can incorporate best practices in your own careful launches.”

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