Estacada News subscription model reflects value of services
Every week Estacada News Reporter Emily Lindstrand and Sports Reporter Dave Ball bring you stories of your community.
In the Jan. 10 edition alone, we had stories on a group of Estacada middle schoolers who are raising the bar in their stand against bullying, and another story about a student who used her talents to illustrate a children's book.
In the same edition, you read about a macabre scene where two lifeless bodies were pulled from the wreckage of an SUV found submerged in the Clackamas River.
And on those same pages you were brought current on the activities planned throughout your community. And we reported on the legislative agenda of Rep. Christine Drazan, who was elected in November to serve in House District 39.
These stories — and many others just like them — cover different topics, but they're all similar in several respects: They were written by an Estacada News reporter; you won't read these stories anywhere else; and all of our news content comes at a price.
Emily, for example, is paid for every hour she spends in City Council and School Board meetings. Dave Ball is on the clock every time he steps onto the sideline at a Rangers football game.
These reporters are on the clock while writing their stories and taking photographs. An editor is paid to approve their stories for publication. A designer places their stories on pages. Others operate the press. We pay for paper, ink and postage. And later Emily and Dave push their stories to the website and social media.
Nothing comes for free.
Any yet since The Estacada News launched its website — probably sometime in the late 1990s — we have always provided our online visitors a free pass to our content, while charging a subscription fee to our customers who receive the printed newspaper.
That worked well for years because our customers were sharply divided into two camps — those who only wanted an actual newspaper, and those who will only read the stories if they can find them online.
But times are changing.
The number of people who are accessing our online news and sports content is on an upward trend, even as the number of print subscribers is waning. It's a positive reality of our industry.
In order to provide the same level of news coverage in both print and online, we've arrived at the necessary decision to charge for access to news content on our website. To put it simply, we're putting up a paywall.
What's that going to look like?
QUESTION: If I already subscribe to the print edition will I have free access to the website?
ANSWER: Yes. Unrestricted.
QUESTION: How much will it cost for a single year — print or digital — subscription to The Estacada News?
ANSWER: $30 per year in print/digital; $20 per year for digital only; $1 for an online day pass.
QUESTION: Can I buy a single story?
ANSWER: We are going with what's called a "monthly metered paywall," where web visitors will be able to read three stories a month at no cost; though you will be asked to provide an email address. You'll encounter the paywall after the third free story each month.
QUESTION: Will some of the content remain available outside of the paywall?
ANSWER: The paywall will never prohibit access to digital advertising, classified ads, obituaries and Insiders.
QUESTION: What about big news stories? Will I have access to those?
ANSWER: Yes. Our newsroom editor will have discretion to post "breaking news" outside the paywall. So in the event of an impending eruption of Mount Hood, we won't charge you to read the words "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE."
QUESTION: Is this specific to The Estacada News?
ANSWER: Yes and no. The Portland Tribune, which is part of the Pamplin Media Group, is a free publication, so it won't move behind a paywall. But all other Pamplin publications that charge subscription fees are transitioning to this model.
QUESTION: When is this happening?
ANSWER: The switch flips on Monday, Jan. 21.
Our commitment is stronger than ever
For decades, The Estacada News has reported on this community, and that's not changing anytime soon. We'll cover city councils, school boards, sports, classrooms, crime, entertainment, health and every imaginable topic for as long as people are interested in knowing what's going on in their town.
The only difference now is that we're going to charge a fee for access to our website, which more than anything else reflects the shift in how people are accessing our content.
We appreciate our subscribers and advertisers, who collectively make it possible for us every day to cover your communities, and to do it better than any other local media. We can't do this without your support. It's a symbiotic partnership that we embrace.
Thank you for your understanding as we make this transition.
Steve Brown is publisher of The Gresham Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News, which are part of the Pamplin Media Group.