Outlook subscription model reflects value of services
Outlook News Reporter Chris Keizur spent part of his Saturday covering a forum panel of women in leadership positions of local politics. They gathered with the American Association of University Women largely to discuss homelessness and possible solutions. You can read that story in today's edition of our newspaper or you can find it on our website.
Outlook Education Reporter Teresa Carson provides steady coverage of local schools, including her latest story on the possibility of converting Corbett schools into a charter district. You can find her latest story in the Jan. 11 newspaper, or on our website.
Outlook Small Cities Reporter Matt DeBow recently was the only representative of local media to attend the Wood Village City Council meeting where Mayor Tim Clark submitted his resignation (he's battling cancer), and where Council President Scott Harden was sworn in to complete Clark's term. You can read that story in today's edition of our newspaper or on our website.
These three stories are very different, and yet similar in three respects, they were written by Outlook reporters: You won't read these stories anywhere else. And all of our news content comes at a price.
Keizur, for example, was paid for the three hours he spent reporting and writing his story on the AAUW forum. An editor was being paid to approve the story for publishing. A designer placed the story on a page. Others operated the press. We pay for paper, ink and postage. And someone else pushed the story to the website and social media.
The same is true of every story that appears in The Outlook's print edition or online at www.greshamoutlook.com. Nothing comes for free.
And yet since The Outlook launched its website in the 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 content is on the rise, even as the number of print subscribers is waning. It's a reality of our industry that we can't ignore.
In order to provide the same level of news coverage in both print and online, we've arrived at the unavoidable 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 Outlook?
ANSWER: $45 per year in print/digital; $35 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 Outlook?
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 more than 108 years, The Outlook has reported on the news of East Multnomah County, and that's not changing anytime soon. We will cover city councils, school boards, sports, classrooms, crime, entertainment, health and every other imaginable topic for as long as people are interested in knowing what's going on in their communities.
The only difference now is that we're going to charge a subscription fee 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 Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News, which are part of the Pamplin Media Group.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.