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Politiken.dk: Payment for online access

Editor-in-chief says journalism costs money

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From the end of 2012 there will be a limit on how many articles visitors to Politiken.dk will be able to read free of charge online, with the service introducing a digital subscription system similar to The New York Times.

“Journalism costs – irrespective of whether it is print or in digital form – and we feel it is reasonable to ask people to pay for a service they use a lot. We have charged for our newspaper for more than 125 years, and now it is time to introduce the same system at Politiken.dk: If you use us a lot, there will be a charge, but if your usage is below the level required for payment, you can continue to use us free of charge,” says Editor-in-Chief Bo Lidegaard.

Lidegaard adds that there is an international tendency to charge for online news content and that several Danish newspapers have already introduced a system.

“We have decided to do it now because we are ready. We have managed to create the strongest, significant Danish news site with the most users and best quality. We believe that The New York Times model suits us, so we have both the strength and a sense of how to do it,” he says, adding that the reason for the move is that advertising revenues are not at, and are unlikely to reach, a level which will finance the publication’s ambitions.

It is not yet clear how many articles will be available without payment, or what a subscription will cost.

“We have not yet decided on a sum or the level of usage after which it will be necessary to take out a subscription. But we presume that the more someone uses the site, the more prepared they are to pay for quality journalism. Nonetheless, only a small section of Politiken.dk’s users are expected to be affected,” Lidegaard says.

Asked whether the limited number affected makes the exercise worthwhile, Lidegaard is in no doubt.

“Certainly. The challenges will not be met from one day to the next, but if we don’t begin with this, we don’t begin the future,” he says, and points to the experiences of The New York Times, where anything above a single per cent of subscribing users is seen as a success.

As a result, politiken.dk does not expect to see a reduction in users or visitors.

Subscribers to the printed edition of Politiken will continue to have free access to the entire politiken.dk site. Other users who wish to read more articles than those provided free of charge, will have to wait until the following month.

A digital subscription to Politiken.dk will be valid for a computer, iPad and mobile.

Politiken.dk has 900,000 monthly users who generate 2.3 million weekly visits.

“With this model we hope to have found an important building block in order to finance quality journalism in Denmark, Lidegaard says.

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