Posted December 3, 2010 10:17 am - Updated December 6, 2010 12:18 pm

Chronicle is launching subscriptions for digital access

Free for a limited time.



Digital access to The Augusta Chronicle's news stories - also available in a nifty iPad format in the coming weeks - is moving from being completely free to a subscription-based model.



We'll start Monday morning by limiting the number of locally produced articles per month that you can view freely. Once you've opened about 100 premium stories against our meter - primarily those published in the print edition and packaged with additional content overnight - we'll ask you to subscribe. (The 100 free articles per month are for a limited time.)



The homepage, breaking news, photo galleries, obits, most blogs and most section fronts won't count against the premium meter at this point. "Spotted" photo coverage and video remain completely free. We have exclusive, additional content "produced for subscribers" in the iPad and online planned for 2011.



Current print subscribers will pay $2.95 per month to add this full access pass. Digital-only subscriptions will be $6.95 per month.



Why? Frankly, we've learned that we can't grow our business in the digital age on the returns digital advertisements provide versus print advertising.

The business model is changing.



Also, the journalism we do is more expensive than some other forms. We go beyond the button-pushing journalism some bloggers and copycat online sites offer. It requires staff and money to be your watchdog on government and to report the news you've come to expect from your newspaper. We put forth a credible, methodical and formidable news team for years.



That said, light and free reading of our content isn't going away. Passers-by will not encounter restrictions checking a few stories and e-mailing a few links. General readership through Facebook links and clippings on refrigerators is unaffected. And there will still be copies of the paper lying around the library and at businesses.



Some access will be limited, that's all.



For the equivalent of buying us a gourmet cup of coffee each month, or a couple of cups if you aren't a current subscriber, you support a model of shared civic responsibility and credible commerce.



The value goes beyond access. You support the local journalism that includes:



- Bio-testing local waterways, revealing problems and getting them attention.

- Battling for public records.

- Celebrating local heroes and honoring fallen soldiers.

- Checking the safety of your roadways and bridges.

- Reviewing policies and hiring practices at city hall.

- Raising awareness and donations for breast cancer.

- Championing better government.

- Leading coverage of ASU's national championship.

- Convening a roundtable of local health care CEOs to learn the impact of reforms.

- Rallying charitable giving at Christmastime.



Who else does this as often as your local newspaper?



Our credibility and value as a news organization are supported by different types of revenue, helping us keep a large reporting staff and maintain independence against agenda-driven special interests.



We are able to do that through your subscriptions - on paper or on a digital platform. And, you'll find, most of it is still free for a limited time.



Reach Alan English at (706) 823-3487 or alan.english@augustachronicle.com.




Estimated time of implementation: Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Note of coverage about this change:• PaidContent.org covers The Augusta Chronicle paid meter move
• Monday's Q&A / interaction blog with readers at implementation
• Steve Yelvington on Augusta's launch (not a paywall)
• Lubbock’s announcement

Additional notes:



Press+, a service of Journalism Online, LLC, is our partner in building this subscription-based model online. Journalism Online was founded by Steven Brill, founder of The American Lawyer Magazine and Court TV; L. Gordon Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher; and Leo Hindery, Jr., who has led the San Francisco Chronicle, AT&T Cable and YES Network. How it works: http://www.mypressplus.com/readers



The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and The Augusta Chronicle are the first newspapers owned by Morris Publishing Group LLC to launch this subscription-based online model. Morris Publishing is a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga., and currently owns and operates 13 daily newspapers as well as nondaily newspapers, city magazines and free community publications in the Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and Alaska.



Other newspapers owned by the group include: The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville); Savannah (Ga.) Morning News; Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald, Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News; Bluffton (S.C.) Today; Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch; Juneau (Alaska) Empire; Log Cabin Democrat, Conway, Ark.; Peninsula Clarion, Kenai, Alaska; The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record; and The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal.