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The Boston Globe Rolls Dice on New Paywall Site

For many years, if you wanted to get your Boston Globe fix, you navigated your browser to Boston.com. However, beginning today, there’s a new spot for the paper’s faithful: BostonGlobe.com. Print subscribers will be able to access the site for free, and until October 1 registered users can view content, but after that it’ll cost $3.99 a week, or $208 a year, for non-print subscribers.

Sounds normal, right? The paper wants to start charging for its online features. But here’s the odd thing: Boston.com will remain online and free. Christopher M. Mayer, Publisher of The Boston Globe, said there is a good reason for that.

“Our research showed that we have different segments of news consumers in our market, and we need to reach them in different ways,” explained Mayer. “We are also providing advertisers a new opportunity to connect with a premier reader base in an uncluttered and innovative new format.” It’s a nice thought, but maybe not the smartest.

BostonGlobe.com is aimed at people who appreciate the journalism behind a newspaper and are willing to pay for it, so how will that attract any new readers? The people who are most likely to read the site are probably already subscribers to the print version, which means no new revenue because they get it for free. Also, when does splitting up your brand ever make sense? Like it or not, people are creatures of habit. They won’t want to go searching all over for their favorites columnists or sections, and divided readership means lower interest from advertisers.

Time will tell if this gamble from The Boston Globe is a good one or not, but from the looks of it, we’ll be surprised if this doesn’t crap out.

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