For nearly a year, A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC) has said it would test some sort of pay wall plan at one of its papers. After repeated delays, it’s finally doing so — but not quite in the way people expected. Rather than provide print subscribers with free online access and charge other online readers, as about 30 local papers in the U.S. have done, the company will only be posting excerpts of many of its local stories online in hopes that people will buy the paper to read the complete stories, local Providence weekly the Phoenix reports (via WebNewser).
The strategy suggests that the paper did not believe it could drive much meaningful revenue from charging online readers, considering that giving people the option to buy access to full stories online would theoretically have also driven many readers to the print edition, while also generating some additional online sales. Or perhaps the Journal, which had its print circulation drop 19 percent last year, exclusively cares about turning around that figure. I couldn’t find any announcement on the Journal‘s site. We’ve asked A.H. Belo for clarification and will update if we hear back.