With Google’s One Pass, Two More Newspaper Chains Join The Paywall Brigade

Included in the announcement of Google’s long-expected One Pass paid content system for publishers is news that two more U.S. newspaper chains are planning to put up online paywalls at some of their newspaper sites this year: Media General (NYSE: MEG) plans to use One Pass to charge users who access its 180,000-plus circulation Richmond Times Dispatch, while midwest newspaper chain Rust Communications will soon charge some users at three of its newspaper sites.

MediaGeneral spokesman Raymond Kozakewicz tells us the company will put up a paywall at the Times-Dispatch‘s site within three months. He would not say how much the chain would charge and did not say how the model would work.

Since December, however, the company has been working with Journalism Online’s Press+ to charge some readers who access the website of its Hickory, North Carolina Hickory Daily Record. Under that system, MediaGeneral lets online readers access 15 pages for free each month and then asks them to pay $1.95 a month if they are print subscribers or $4.95 if they are not to continue to access the site’s content.

Kozakewicz says that MediaGeneral will “evaluate” the success of the One Pass system at the Times-Dispatch and then consider adopting it at its other papers.

For its part, Rust Communications, which owns 19 daily and 30 weekly newspapers, will use One Pass to charge online users at one of its newspaper sites next month, followed by two others. Publisher Jon Rust says the company will be using a “metered approach” and will also test allowing users to pay per story. He says pricing will vary by market.

Rust Communications and MediaGeneral join a growing list of newspaper chains that are beginning to charge users who access online content: A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC) said earlier this year that it would put up a paywall at its flagship Dallas Morning News; the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) will soon charge online readers of both the Boston Globe and New York Times; and Gannett (NYSE: GCI) continues to “test” paywalls at several of its local papers.