Paywalls Spread To College Newspapers

Students work for their college newspapers for all sorts of reasons–and while college papers are sheltered from the harsh realities facing national and local newspapers in many ways, it’s probably never too early for a crash course in revenue models. Hence the new collaboration between digital subscription company Press+ and the Knight Foundation: Starting today, the first 50 college newspapers to sign up with Press+ will be able to install free meters on their websites, allowing them to collect donations and subscription fees from readers.

Press+, which is owned by RR Donnelley (NSDQ: RRD) and already operates metered paywalls for “grownup” newspapers like the Baltimore Sun and many MediaNews Group and Lee papers, says it is “providing students with a sustainable way to target parents, alumni, and other engaged readers for donations or subscriptions.”

The idea is not to charge college students for access to their own schools’ newspapers, but to get people accessing the websites from outside the college community to pay for access or just throw in a few bucks when they like an article. Press+ is also promoting its offerings for college newspapers as a way for student journalists to learn about career journalism. “This generation needs to find new revenue streams, including new ways to collect revenues from the readers who get the most value from access,” said Press+ co-founder Gordon Crovitz.

The Knight Foundation previously provided nonprofit news sites like ProPublica with grants for Press+ access.

Several college papers are already using paywalls or collecting donations with Press+, including Oklahoma State University’s Daily O’Collegian, which charges non-local readers $10 per year to read more than three articles per month; Syracuse University’s Daily Orange; Boston University’s Daily Free Press; Tufts’ Tufts Daily; UMass-Amherst’s Daily Collegian; the Kansas State Collegian; and the University of Victoria’s Martlet.