Here are some questions and answers about jg-tc.com's new metered usage plan:
Why are you charging some people for access to jg-tc.com?
The local news and information published on our websites is a valuable product. We'll ask folks who use this site intensively to pay a modest subscription fee.
Many site visitors who drop by once in a while won't have to pay anything. All website visitors will be able to view a certain number of any website pages for free during any 30-day period starting with their first visit. Anyone who views free pages only, or stays under those limits, will experience no change or charge to access our sites.
This is called a "meter," which gives everyone free basic access to jg-tc.com. You may have heard about "paywalls" that completely restrict access, but we're not doing that.
By giving you free basic access and the opportunity to subscribe to our exclusive information, we'll be able to continue to maintain and improve the quality of jg-tc.com and its partner sites.
What is a "meter" and how does it work?
Our website meter is like a parking meter that gives you the first hour free. For many people, that's plenty. But if you want to spend a lot more time, it will cost you something.
Anyone can still view lots of jg-tc.com for free. Some parts of the site, such as homepages and popular sections listing headlines, are always free.
Only "premium" pages of exclusive content will be metered - but even then, you can view up to 10 premium pages a month without charge.
The meter reacts to individual behavior. So anything might be free to any individual user at any given time. It's not a "paywall" that locks down access to specific sites, popular sections or specific subjects.
If you are close to using up your free views, the site will warn you in advance. If you use all free premium views, the site will deliver an offer with a "click here to subscribe" feature, making it easy to sign up.
We're asking only our most frequent and loyal readers to pay these modest subscription fees continue viewing premium content after the 10 free views run out. And if you currently subscribe to the JG-TC, you get a discount as a loyal reader.
jg-tc.com always has been free. What makes this site worth paying for now?
The local news and information published on our website is a valuable product that costs a lot of money to produce for you. Much of the news on jg-tc.com comes exclusively from the newsroom of the JG-TC, which fields the largest newsgathering force in the region. That means a lot of the news posted here can't be found anywhere else.
For just pennies a day, you'll get local news coverage around the clock, seven days a week. That itself is a pretty good value.
How much will readers pay when they use up their free premium page views?
Anyone can purchase unlimited access to jg-tc.com for $5.95 a month, one of the lowest rates currently being charged by local news websites.
Newspaper subscribers can purchase a subscription for a discounted rate of just $1.95 per month.
You already have advertisers. Why are you trying to get money from me, too?
As with local newspapers, a local website needs both advertising and subscription revenue to help cover costs, such as sustaining the largest newsgathering effort in the region. Collecting, producing and delivering exclusive local information around the clock, seven days a week, costs money no matter whether it's published once a day in print or every few minutes online.
So now, we're asking intensive readers to pay just pennies a day to look at as many pages as they want on jg-tc.com. That's seems like a good deal.
Also, as more advertisers shift from print to online, the advertisers expect us to continue to help them reach local online users with their offers and deals. And of course, it's necessary for us to recognize these shifts from print to online advertising by maintaining and possibly even expanding the advertising options that we offer online today.
In this fast-changing business, digital subscriptions surely have a place in the mix.
Those pennies a day that you pay help cover the cost of collecting local news and information, and to produce and maintain our many websites, apps and other products.
Why don't you offer a basic website for free? That's all I need anyway.
That's actually quite similar to what we're doing. You can view a certain number of any stories on the site for free every month, and some parts of the site are free all the time.
You'll be asked to pay only if it turns out that you're an especially heavy user of the site. We think it's fair to ask people who rely heavily on our information to support the effort by paying a modest subscription. The cost is $1.95 a month, or 6 cents a day, if you add it to your existing newspaper home delivery subscription.
I already buy the newspaper. Why are you trying to get more money from me?
We appreciate loyal readers, so newspaper subscribers will get a discount on the website. We charge because there's a lot more available at jg-tc.com than just stories published in the JG-TC. In fact, only about a fourth of the site's content comes from the daily paper.
Even a seven-day JG-TC subscriber should expect to pay a little extra for all of the additional valuable content and continual updates, blog posts, pictures, videos, tweets and more which, by the way, publishes most of its work exclusively online.
I'll just get my news free from Google. Doesn't it have everything?
No. In fact, Google doesn't produce news - it links to sites like ours. And many sites that produce exclusive local information have started charging some sort of fee to their most frequent users.
Our website, which gives you multiple websites for the price of one, is a great value. If you care about what's going on around you, we'll deliver a faster, more complete and up-to-date report than you can find on other sites like Google and Yahoo, which just link back to us.
And our bargain-priced subscriptions open the door to unlimited access to everything produced across all of jg-tc.com and its sister sites.
Our rates also are lower than many other websites that have adopted similar subscriptions. Again, you only pay if you rely on the site a lot — and that seems fair to us. And if you already subscribe to our daily newspaper, you get a substantial discount.
I'll just get my news from TV sites. Don't they have everything?
If you care about local news and issues, it's a great idea to consult a variety of local websites each day. But jg-tc.com is the best place to start, because we have the biggest news reporting forces in the region, and we're adding new features all the time.
We respect local TV sites' efforts to cover local news with their more limited resources. But the free news on some sites is more limited and dominated by reports on weather, crime and news items picked up from the Associated Press. You can get those types of news for free anywhere - including on jg-tc.com.
You'll be asked to pay only if it turns out that you're an especially intensive user of our site's more exclusive local information produced by our own staff. We think this is the best way to be fair to all of our users, whether they visit us once a month or 10 times a day.
Why wouldn't I switch to other newspaper sites instead of paying for this site?
It's a great idea to consult a variety of state websites each day. Just so you know, the Springfield Journal-Register and Peoria Journal-Star (owned by Gate House Media) are charging for digital access, and newspaper sites owned by Lee Enterprises and Gannett plan to start charging soon. What we're doing is not really new or radical.
Plus, we're offering a better deal than the typical newspaper. Besides being the best place to get exclusive Mattoon/Charleston area news, we cast a statewide net, and you also get more than one newspaper site's news and viewpoints on jg-tc.com. We have many more reporters than the other papers when it comes to covering this area's news, politics, entertainment and sports, including the Panthers and area high schools. We also offer entertainment news, high school sports and more - all included in one price. We're adding new features all the time. So we think our modest subscription price offering unlimited access is a great deal.
With metering, how will I know where I stand?
All website visitors will be able to view a certain number of any website pages for free during any 30-day period starting with their first visit. Readers will receive a warning before they run out of page views. After the reader has used all free premium page views, the site will deliver an offer with a "click here to subscribe" feature, making it easy to sign up. Readers who don't sign up still will have limited viewing of the site.
The sites won't show a page view "countdown" feature or similar reminder to users. And the sites will not label individual pages or items as "free" or "paid." As stated above, the meter reacts to individual behavior. Any piece of metered content might be free to any individual user at any given time. Again, it's not a "paywall" that locks down access to specific sites or content.
I live out of state but have family in the Mattoon/Charleston area. Why should I have to pay?
If you're only checking our site once in a while, you probably won't be asked to pay, because we allow quite a few free visits to the site. But if you rely heavily on us, it seems fair to ask for a modest subscription fee, just as we do for local residents who pay for the website or the newspaper.
I only read obituaries. Why should I have to pay?
Please keep in mind, the folks who read the very same obituaries in the newspaper have always had to pay for the paper, whether they read each one or not. So now, it's little different online.
You can read the summaries here every day for free. If you're reading the full obituaries only once in a while, you probably won't be asked to pay, because we allow quite a few free visits to the site.
But if you read obituaries every day, it seems fair to ask for a modest subscription fee - just like our newspaper subscribers. And it's the same fee we ask from folks who look at only one other section of the website, such as entertainment listings, sports, or politics. You're not being singled out.