The Chronicle's customer service and information blog

New metered subscription starts today

As you may have heard, we are implementing a metered subscription model for our Web site. Starting today, a notice will appear when you hit 5 and 10 premium page views, and a subscription will be required when you exhaust 15 of those pages. We expect the limit to drop to 10 premium page views in July 2011. Premium content is defined as locally-produced content. That said, here are pages that contain free content and will not tick the meter tracking premium views: section fronts, live breaking news, news updates, photos (including Spotted), blogs (for a limited time), obits and classified and general advertising. The meter starts when you first access a premium story and resets one month later. It will not necessarily reset at the beginning of the month.

 

This is not a paywall like you might see at The Tallahassee Democrat or The Greenville News.

 

Our metered approach intentionally leaves a large number of pages free and tracks views of designated content. Different readers might be affected at different times. Casual readers may not experience much impact at all. We will probably be making adjustments as we learn.

 

We compiled a list of your questions from calls and comments under Alan English’s blog. Read it for a more detailed explanation of what we are doing. The Q&A below should address some of your concerns.

 

Q: Can family members log on at the same time or from multiple computers?

 

In the early phases we will allow multiple logons. However, with time, we will likely be more akin to Netflix, where devices are identified and authorized to view the site.

 

Non-subscribers will still be able to access the site and view all of our non-metered content as well as premium content up to the 15-page limit per month.

 

Q: Can users pay for a full year subscription?

 

For now digital subscriptions are available only on a month-to-month basis. That may, and probably will, change in the future.

 

Q: Is the E-edition (PDFs of the actual print edition of The Chronicle) included with the digital subscription?

 

The E-edition is available to current print edition subscribers by following the “Delivery Services and Apps” link near the top right of our home page. You can also get an E-edition only subscription for $7.95 per month. We will probably be including this in the digital subscription at some point in the future.
This is the best option for people who like the traditional print product. You get the same paper we deliver to your house each morning in an easy-to-use electronic format.

 

Q: Will we continue to have pop-up ads?

 

There’s not much we can do about that. These ads currently, and will continue to, pay the majority of the bills. Subscription charges have never brought in enough money to cover a newspaper’s expenses. Regardless of what we charge, we don’t see that changing.

 

Q: Will you add an E-edition-type section for advertising fliers that appear in the print edition? Maybe add the store’s website link?

 

That’s actually a really good idea.  We will definitely try to set that up, but it would likely be part of our free, unlimited content.

 

Q: Will you include the archives as part of our digital subscription?

 

This idea has merit, and we will look at this in the future. We presently are under contract with Newsbank to provide access to our archives, so we can’t do it at this time. This is an excellent historical resource. Searchable scans of nearly all of our old newspapers are available dating back to 1792.

 

Q: Will hitting refresh on a story to follow new comments count as separate page views?

 

Viewing the same URL multiple times shouldn’t count as multiple page views. We’ll be doing some experimenting to see how scrolling through additional pages of comments will affect the meter. As a matter of fact, as you read this at least one of us will probably be clicking content to reach the 15-view threshold to see exactly how it will work in the real world.

 

Q: How will the digital subscription work with our standard online accounts?

 

These are separate registrations – existing and new online accounts won’t have to subscribe unless they reach the 15-story maximum, and digital subscribers can access the site without creating a standard online account. We may be merging the two accounts at some point in the future, but we don’t have immediate plans to do so. There is still a lot of free content on our site, so users with online profiles can continue to view section fronts, live breaking news, news updates, photos (including Spotted), blogs (for a limited time), obits, etc.

 

Q: What does this mean to our online commenters?

 

You can still comment using your existing account without subscribing. We will be experimenting in the coming days to see how comments count against the meter. Once you have reached the limit, you will be required to subscribe if you wish to continue commenting. If an online account is blocked from commenting for repeated violations of our terms of service, you can still access the site through your digital subscription. Non-subscribers can still comment on non-premium content to their heart’s content.

 

Even though we have this new pay model, we are not changing our comment moderation policies. They are driven by our terms of service, and we retain the right to remove any comment.

 

Again, you can read Alan’s blog for more background information.

 

From Alan: “This decision is part of a strategy for your newspaper. Your subscriptions help us remain one of the largest and most credible newsgathering forces in the CSRA. We want this to be as painless as possible while correcting the long-standing and industry-wide mistake of giving away all of our content for free online.”

 

As you have other questions, Alan and I will answer them here.

 

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Comments (51) Add comment
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 12/06/10 - 11:39 am
0
0
Sean, is The Forum considered

Sean, is The Forum considered a blog? I assume that ACES editorials are counted as locally produced news stories. Is that right? We exchanged communications earlier when the new Reader Comments and oversight policies were rolled out several months ago. I had hoped that The Chronicle would use its website basically as a portal for new technologies r/t distribution of news and information. Yes, The AC has some locally produced videos. Why do none of the staff or reporters have audio blogs that could be accessed by mp3? Many new vehicles are capable of accessing the web. Twitter can be voice activated. Smart phone are ubiquitous and are capable of receiving video as well as audio files. Why doesn't The Chronicle have an internet radio show or post news videos that would put them in competition with TV News? Just wondering why little new media has made it to The Chronicle. Is money a constraint or is it lack of vision? I understand that your response has to be diplomatic. I wish you could be entirely candid, but we now live in an age where diplomats, diplomats in training, and employees cannot really say what they think for fear of losing their job. BTW, are staff meeting at The Chronicle preceded by compulsory prayer sessions? If so, you better not object or you could lose your job. Just asking the questions that Austin Rhodes hasn't thought of or is too media / celebrity entrenched to ask.

Alan English
6
Points
Alan English 12/06/10 - 11:59 am
0
0
We can be candid. Give me a

We can be candid. Give me a call. 706-823-3487 for the next few minutes. Some decisions are based on what the return on investment and what the possible audience size is for a feature ... and some are strategy decisions that look different from inside vs. outside.
And no, prayers are not a regular part of our business/staff meetings. News and the opinion pages are managed separately.
We are all over Twitter with multiple accounts. Video is something we agree to add more of, but in a measured way. Just doing what TV does isn't our strategy.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 12/06/10 - 12:01 pm
0
0
John's comment and the

John's comment and the comments from Alan's blog made me think of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka...

"I want an Oompa Loompa, and I want it noooooow."

People expect the Chronicle to "serve" them, to do it NOW and to do it for FREE.

Sean Moores
1062
Points
Sean Moores 12/06/10 - 12:10 pm
0
0
JRHC, The Forums will not

JRHC, The Forums will not count against the meter; editorials will.

Insider, Our industry bears a lot of the blame for that attitude. We should have created a modest pay model for our online content from the beginning.

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 12/06/10 - 12:12 pm
0
0
How can I check the number of

How can I check the number of pages I have racked up during a month?

Sean Moores
1062
Points
Sean Moores 12/06/10 - 12:19 pm
0
0
Indigo, That's not possible.

Indigo, That's not possible. I don't know what it would entail, and I haven't heard any plans to make that available.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 12/06/10 - 12:58 pm
0
0
Thanks for your answers, Alan

Thanks for your answers, Alan and Sean. I will continue to post on The Forums as long as it exists and I'm permitted and/or able which hopefully will be a couple of more generations. I will click on the front page liberally (pun intended) and then conservatively on editorials whose headlines rouse my interest.

I don't expect The Chronicle to match what local TV news does. I don't watch TV and don't much care about local "if it bleeds it leads" news. I care about national and international news plus local news stories on the environment. Some health and human interest stories also appeal to me.

Staff blogs don't seem to be getting a big response. How hard is it for staff and reporters to record their editorials, blogs, and news reports so it is available as mp3 audio files? I would not expect the expense to be enormous. Audio political discussions are also a possibility.

Alan, I will call you if I have a specific question or suggestion. My vehement disagreement with the editorial policy of The Chronicle continues. The tabloid style yellow journalism is alienating and dividing people IMO politically, economically, and racially.

Finally, does clicking on the weather report count against the meter? Thanks guys. Good luck. It's that damn editorial policy that keeps me from subscribing. Do you have to have a credit card to subscribe?

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 12/06/10 - 03:34 pm
0
0
As a customer, I'd be

As a customer, I'd be interested in the subscription service IF it included the PDF version of the paper. Sometimes I am within reach of web access and sometimes not.

I'd also like to see semi-annual and or annual subscriptions available at a small discount.

I used to subscribe to the paper but found it did more sitting around filling up my fireplace than anything else. The digi-version is not only convenient, its more environmentally responsible.

That said, I may have to start fires in my fireplace with my neighbors furniture....

Fiat_Lux
16442
Points
Fiat_Lux 12/06/10 - 03:44 pm
0
0
I would like to know before I

I would like to know before I click on an article if it counts on the meter. Obviously, editorials would but would Rants and Raves, which aren't exactly produced by the ACES?

I ask for this because so much of the "news" just repeats itself week after week, only with different set of names. I can't see running through my meter on stories I don't really care about.

On the other hand, if a wreck is blocking traffic on Washington Road or I-20, I'd certainly want to look at that information.

Also, if we've already clicked on an article, is that the only time it will count on our click meter, or will it tick up every time we come back to it, or move through the pages of comments?

And finally, how long will this 100-article metered access be available? Somehow, I have a feeling this is only a temporary thing designed to wean us completely off free access for anything worth having. Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful to have it. Y'all could have just chopped everything off except by subscription from one day to the next.

Sean Moores
1062
Points
Sean Moores 12/06/10 - 04:18 pm
0
0
Fiat, The meter should only

Fiat, The meter should only count a URL once regardless of how many times you go back to the page.

R&R is premium content. Generally speaking anything not on this list: (section fronts, live breaking news, news updates, photos (including Spotted), blogs, obits and classified and general advertising) will count as premium content.

R&R will only count as another hit when you go to a second, and third, etc page of comments. It's been pretty anemic lately so you probably won't have to go through many pages on the R&R.

I'm pretty sure we will be adjusting this number in the coming months. I don't know exactly when or by how much; it will probably depend on usage, etc.

Sweet son
11651
Points
Sweet son 12/06/10 - 04:22 pm
0
0
Can we be forgiven for too

Can we be forgiven for too many hits as we all try to figure out how this hting works? Also, how do you pay? If we go over the limit can we call with a credit card number and immediately have our account turned back on?

Sean Moores
1062
Points
Sean Moores 12/06/10 - 04:48 pm
0
0
JRHC, As far as I know

JRHC, As far as I know weather does count against the meter. See the second paragraph of my reply to Fiat.

Sweet, That meter is clicking right now. There's no stopping it until the first of the month when it resets. You will get a note at 26, 60 and 100 premium page views with a link to the online subscription form. A credit card is mandatory to subscribe.

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 12/06/10 - 06:16 pm
0
0
R&R is premium content?

R&R is premium content? Certainly you jest! You couldn't pay ME to read that blather LOL. and I agree I don't see how you can meter me without some check on the system.

Alan English
6
Points
Alan English 12/06/10 - 07:40 pm
0
0
Seeing the count: As of now,

Seeing the count:
As of now, a counter is not a priority. We have set the system to trigger a welcome page at 25, warning page at 60 and stop page at 100. If you run into these pages, you are a regular user and probably know it. Regular users likely will find it necessary to subscribe.
The introductory 100 page buffer likely will be smaller in the coming months.
Breaking and developing news likely will be free for quite some time.

Kirkwood
0
Points
Kirkwood 12/06/10 - 08:07 pm
0
0
Rich, be realistic. The AC

Rich, be realistic. The AC is first and foremost, a for-profit business. The internet has caused many corporations and small businesses to re-evaluate their business model. I don't know how many years the concept of a local "newspaper" will still be around but I can guarantee the answer to be "not long" if they can't find a way to pay the bills.

KNECKBONE
26
Points
KNECKBONE 12/06/10 - 08:09 pm
0
0
watch it on someone's skype

watch it on someone's skype or stickam ha ha

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 12/06/10 - 09:30 pm
0
0
Regular users will find it

Regular users will find it not so necessary to be regular users.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 12/06/10 - 09:50 pm
0
0
You said devices would be

You said devices would be identified and enabled to view the site. Will we not be able to get on from home and at work? Even if only one computer is accessing the site at a time?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 12/06/10 - 10:14 pm
0
0
How many of the people on

How many of the people on here whining have a job? Of those, how many work for a company where the product/service is free?

The people who constantly bash the Chronicle are the same ones who read it all day every day.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 12/06/10 - 10:39 pm
0
0
Anybody hit 100 yet?

Anybody hit 100 yet?

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 12/06/10 - 10:39 pm
0
0
How many are self employed

How many are self employed and have multiple computers they work from?

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 12/06/10 - 10:40 pm
0
0
I have 3. My husband has 2.

I have 3. My husband has 2.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 12/06/10 - 10:45 pm
0
0
Why don't all of you who are

Why don't all of you who are happy about having to pay send in some extra to the Chronicle to help on your own. Plus, encourage Yahoo, AOL and MSN to start charging. Before they do, send them something too.

I will pay the dang fee, but it's like a contest where everyone has to prove how happy they are to be paying. Again, what happens if you have an account and sign on from multiple locations, but only one at a time. For instance, from home and work?

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 12/06/10 - 11:36 pm
0
0
An overly complicated

An overly complicated approach that eats up employee's time and irritates readers not knowing when they will be "cut off" and counter productive as some material will be skipped to save viewed pages.
Why not just divide the site up to pay (preminum) and non pay areas? (pages).On the front non pay page an area can be devoted to brief summaries of preminum content that require a user/pass to read the entire article(s).That way all readers get an idea of what preminum content is available and an incentive to subscribe.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 12/07/10 - 01:50 am
0
0
I can't believe how many

I can't believe how many people are complaining that what they have been getting for free will now only be partly free. Talk about an entitlement mentality.

KNECKBONE
26
Points
KNECKBONE 12/07/10 - 01:58 am
0
0
it's still on my computer

it's still on my computer .now i better delete it.not paying .get free newspaper from neighbor.i hope this is free last thing i type.cause i have no idea .

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 12/07/10 - 04:15 am
0
0
Alan, I live and work

Alan,

I live and work overseas so I am sure that we use some sort of floating IP address depending on the log on. Could that create a problem for me? I mean I would like to see a once a year sub available with a universal log on ID instead of an IP counter.

By the way, I do not mind paying,

Brad

mawtnez
0
Points
mawtnez 12/07/10 - 05:00 am
0
0
Pay for content, ok. Pay for

Pay for content, ok. Pay for the existing online presentation/delivery model? I think not. I would pay for this:

http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/AtlantaJournalConstitutionDemo/

charliemanson
1
Points
charliemanson 12/07/10 - 07:10 am
0
0
Cadence states, "I can't

Cadence states, "I can't believe how many people are complaining that what they have been getting for free will now only be partly free. Talk about an entitlement mentality."
-----------------------------------------
Interesting that Johnston-Cliff, Mr. Anti-entitlement, has deleted his account. Or did the Chronicle delete it for him because of some violation? lol.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 12/07/10 - 07:09 am
0
0
Alan English and others talk

Alan English and others talk about this being "your" paper. Huh? The Augusta Chronicle editorial board and editorial staff does not represent my views or my interests. Beyond that, the decisions about how to move this online newspaper into a paid subscription format was done by fiat. It was NEVER discussed with the readers beforehand, so how can this be "our" paper? Just look at the valid questions and helpful suggestions that Alan's blog and Sean's blog elicited. The top down decision making on the business side is similar to the dictatorial editorial policy of The Chronicle's owner and is a huge part of the reason this newspaper lacks the broad community support needed to succeed. If the editorial policy was fair and balanced and if our opinions were sought after before major decision are made, the newspaper would have more subscribers whether in digital or print format, but digital format is the future. Clearly digital subscribes should be able to access this site wherever they are. What up with that glaring oversight?

Things change folks. Back in the 1980s during the contra war in Nicaragua and the Iran-contra scandal in United States I bought 3 newspapers daily from newspaper dispenser machines (The Chronicle, The Macon Telegraph, and The Atlanta Constitution) because I saved the clippings in file folders. The internet changed all that. Today I read the NY Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, Yahoo! News, Google News, The Augusta Chronicle online. But since the Times (of London) became subscription only I NEVER click on this site. It's another Rupert Murdock owned publication anyway. Why doesn't The Chronicle just sell out to Rupert Murdock? That's the business model and the dictatorial, right-wing editorial policy you are trying to emulate. That business model certainly will not work in Augusta.

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