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MediaNews Group is preparing two local papers for an experiment in partial pay walls, E&P reports. The two papers, the Chico, CA-based Enterprise-Record York, PA-based Daily Record, will each put some of their content behind a pay and subscription wall some time early next year. William Dean Singleton, MediaNews Group CEO and vice-chair, says that publishers need to do something to “condition” online readers to the idea that “not everything is free.”
These two papers were selected because of their small size. As Howard Saltz, VP for content development, tells E&P, MediaNews is focusing on Chico and York “for the same reason that you don’t open on Broadway.” Secondly, the sites’ have enough traffic so that the company will be able to tell if the pay walls reduce online readership. If MediaNews is satisfied with the results from this experiment, it expects to roll out pay walls at larger newspaper websites like The Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News over the next two years. In any case, the size and scope of the pay walls will be determined according to each newspaper site’s market position. “It will not be a cookie-cutter approach,” Singleton says.