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Updated: Honolulu Star-Advertiser Latest Paper To Add Paywall

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The announcement is accompanied by a picture of publisher Dennis Francis wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but the news is all business: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii’s largest daily newspaper, starts charging for online content today. Unlike the metered model that Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE) turned on earlier this week, online access is free for print subscribers.

A digital subscription includes full access to all of the content and archives on and a digital replica of the printed newspaper that can be read on computers and mobile devices. Existing print subscribers get free digital access. Non-print subscribers can either sign up for an “all-access” package for $19.95 per month, which includes digital access and a print subscription for one person, or purchase a digital-only subscription–the price of which varies based on location. Update: Oahu residents pay $9.99 per month or $50 per year; other Hawaii residents pay $4.95 per month or $25 per year, and those outside the state of Hawaii pay $1.95 per month or $10 per year. The site is also offering a $0.99 day pass, primarily aimed at tourists and former tourists who are interested in specific events.

The Star-Advertiser is not the first news outlet in Hawaii to charge for online access. The Honolulu Civil Beat, launched last year by eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar, is an online-only Hawaiian news site that presents itself as a direct–and advertising-free–competitor to the Star-Advertiser. In a post on the site today, president Randy Ching writes, “Why pay for the newspaper when you can get Civil Beat? … There is no advertising on Civil Beat. And we like it that way. On our website and mobile app (which we just launched!), you won’t find any annoying ads. Just news. Better yet, we don’t worry about upsetting advertisers–because we don’t have any.” Civil Beat is also introducing a promotional subscription price of $9.99 per month–half off the usual rate.

But the Star-Advertiser has an enticement of its own: Current print subscribers who activate their digital account and new subscribers are automatically entered to win an iPad 2. The newspaper is giving away two iPad 2s each week through September 2.

Breaking news, the front page and section fronts, AP articles, weather, calendars, photos, blogs, classifieds, travel, traffic, obituaries, the Honolulu Pulse magazine and the paper’s Breaking News mobile app will remain free. Website visitors do not get any other free page views (like the 20 the New York Times offers, for instance) before the paywall kicks in.

Update: Only paying subscribers will be allowed to comment on articles on the site. “It’s our belief that this section has significant value and should be reserved for subscribers,” said Dave Kennedy, SVP marketing at the Star-Advertiser. “We expect the number of comments to decrease, but it will also reduce the number of anonymous and off-topic comments. This will provide for a more civil platform of discussion.”

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser consolidated to form the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in June 2010. The paper says its average weekly readership is 493,303, and its website receives over 19 million monthly pageviews. Update: The Honolulu Civil Beat does not disclose subscriber numbers, but said that it had about 500,000 unique visitors (not all of whom were paying) in its first year of publication.

4 Responses to “Updated: Honolulu Star-Advertiser Latest Paper To Add Paywall”

  1. Smileteacher16

    Wow!  They post articles that are one sided and do not let people comment.  As a teacher that can not afford to pay for the subscription (because I pay for a lot of supplies and use free mainland newspapers that allow students to see more than one side) I think they are doing a major disservice to Hawaii’s youth! How do they have the audacity to blame the educational system in this state when we are a community.  Families, schools and businesses must work together to ensure our students are inspired and receive a well rounded education.  

    Oh how I miss the Honolulu Advertiser that supported our keiki! With Honolulu Advertiser we had full access to articles and our hawaiian ohana’s opinions. We also received free newspapers when our school did not have enough money for the technology we needed to have a full class read articles, ask questions about them, and hear other’s community members point of view, and make a personal educated decision on the matter. I hope readers understand that this BUSINESS is willing to give blame to educators but not support them or their students!  They also do not care about the publics opinion unless they are paying customers……….basically, they will tell you their point of view and you should accept that as the truth.  So basically they are saying we are mokes and will believe whatever is read.  No need think da pappa tell em one truth we go trust um.

    I have cancelled my subscription.  Please join me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Show Honolulu Star-Advertiser that we are an OHANA if they do not want to show the ALOHA spirit they should leave the US………..even the mainland is giving our keiki opportunities to be active learners!  

  2. Manoa Makaainana

    The reporting at the Star-Advertiser is barely subpar, and that’s being kind.  There is way too much spin, and they do not bother to cover many stories important to local people.  The comments to the so-called articles are closely monitored, and any opinions too vociferous or critical of the paper are deleted and posters banned.  And their practice of charging Oahu readers the most to subscribe to this rag is unacceptable.  As they are a private entity, they can of course do what they want, but journalistic integrity in any form is not a concern for this excuse of a newspaper.  I happily get my news from Civil Beat, Hawaii Reporter, and Google News now.  The sooner the Star-Advertiser folds and leaves town the better, and good riddance.