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

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

Note of coverage about this change:• 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:

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.

    • Syndicate content
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Lobosolo 12/05/10 - 05:12 pm
I stopped buying your rag and

I stopped buying your rag and doing nothing more on-line months ago. The reactionary rhetoric full of conjecture and "truths" in the joke of an editorial page, the comments you allow while stifling of others on the race-baiting filled blogs, your lazier than any other sports page, which still cannot seem to find a way to give box scores on any team other than the locals, especially in the Sunday edition, and your repeated failure to represent no one in the area except for Billy Morris' friends ran me off and many, many, others I know. I've only come on this page in the last year to check the obits and local headlines. Not one ad has reached me. Why, for the life of me, do you folks continue to only represent a fraction of your readership area. Had you balanced out that joke of an editorial page with different points of view, or included more letters to the editor from different points of view, I might have stayed... You folks have no one to blame but yourselves for your dwindling readership... You used to be one of the better papers around, long time ago, but y'all get worse by the day... Happy Trails, Billy... Congrats on destroying what your forebears handed you in your lap...

Jackson 12/05/10 - 10:07 pm
I won't be paying a nickle to

I won't be paying a nickle to read this paper online. I have a print subscription but I like to read the comments. Looks like I won't be doing that anymore. It was fun while it lasted. Bye now!

Pickett 12/06/10 - 11:52 am
Wow... I heard about this

Wow... I heard about this Friday while out of town and I expected some stupid comments, but you guys (commenters) didn't let me down! If you are leaving the AC because of a charged subscription for the web site ($2.95 /month or $6.95 /month digital only) or you are a current print subscriber and are complaining about the online subscription, then you are sadly mis-informed about the importance of this news. First, the two models (print versus digital) are totally separate. I'm a print subscriber and NO WHERE does it say I have un-fettered privileges to the online digital web site version. The AC owes you NOTHING if you are a paying print subscriber and it's especially not their fault if you don't READ your print paper.
It's simple. If you want access to certain articles, you have to pay for it. Instead of complaining to the AC, you should thank them for what they have provided the past 12 years in terms of free news. Even with the subscription, it's still cheap and affordable. It's way less than a pack of cigarettes or a cup of coffee (which some of you don't seem to mind paying outrageous money for). Do you think the AC gets their equipment and electricity for free? Do you think the software engineers who maintain the web site work for free? Do you think the writing staff and editors just contribute work to the AC as a hobby? IT COSTS MONEY TO MAINTAIN THIS OPERATION, PEOPLE! Another favorite of mine is those of you who complain about clicking the Milton Rueben ad. It takes about one half second to click the close button on that ad before the front page loads and for some of you, that's the proverbial last straw. If that's too much for you, then I say good riddance. Perhaps the comments will be a lot more intelligent to read without you.

Sean Moores
Sean Moores 12/06/10 - 11:27 am
Thanks for all of your

Thanks for all of your comments and questions. Alan and I have tried to address some of them in my blog.
We will answer your other questions there.

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