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Paywall Pace Increases, As More News Sites Limit Free Articles

If you read your local, hometown or regional newspaper online chances are you’ve hit or will soon be faced with a paywall. That’s because an analysis of Newspaper Association of America data by EByline shows news sites have picked up the pace of paywall adoption in recent months. Previously, they found that larger newspapers, especially, have erected paywalls to try and capture some digital revenue after years of fee-free online reading.

Here’s what EByline’s Susan Johnson found:

A few trends pop out of the data (which has a few holes but is otherwise pretty comprehensive): meters galore, discounts for print subscribes are overwhelmingly popular and, most significantly, an accelerating pace of adoption that peaked late last year but is picking up steam again. This suggests that while experimentation with paywall specifics continues, the journalism industry believes they ultimately have a solution to their digital problem.

According to EByline’s reporting, 84 percent of the papers listed in the NAA database as having payrolls use a metered paywall approach, where they let visitors sample a limited number of articles without paying for access or subscribing.

Johnson’s analysis found the average number of free articles a news site allows readers is 11.2. You’ll remember, the New York Times recently lowered its free article count from 20 to 10. So maybe that really is the sweet spot?

Poynter also looked at the data and has some more details about which organizations have instituted payrolls, and who’s at the low end (3) and the high end (25). It notes 156 papers have adopted paywalls, with more already announced but not yet implemented.

The full Ebyline post is worth reading for more information on their analysis and predictions.

YOUR TURN: What do you think of the paywall approach? Inevitable, or annoying? Saving journalism, or hastening its demise? Tell us in the comments, or @10000words

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