Washington Post To Add Paywall: Report

The Washington Post is planning to introduce a paywall, the Wall Street Journal's Keach Hagey reported on Thursday.

The Post is planning to roll out a paywall system in 2013 that allows users to read a certain amount of articles before a subscription fee is required.

The Post has previously spurned a paywall despite competitors like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal adopting such revenue streams. Even amidst staff cuts and declining circulation, the paper did not turn to charging for its online content.

Ombudsman Patrick Pexton published a March 2012 piece considering a paywall, writing that the paper needed to increase its web traffic first. "The Post doesn’t think that its core of loyal readers is large enough yet to consider a paywall, but it hopes to get there in a year, maybe two," he wrote. Pexton added that the paper also needed to improve its "information technology systems" before considering charging online readers.

The news comes on the heels of a major leadership change at the paper. Executive editor Marcus Brauchli stepped down from his role last month, amidst rumored clashes with publisher Katharine Weymouth on budget-related issues. Boston Globe editor Martin Baron took Brachli's place in the Post newsroom.

Hagey also reported that the paper is planning to increase its print circulation price in 2013.

UPDATE Dec. 7 -- Later, the Post published its own story reporting that sources familiar with the plans said the paper will "probably start charging online readers for access to newspaper articles in the middle of next year."

The Post article suggested that the paper was impacted by the success of the New York TImes' paywall, which was implemented in 2011. Steven Mufson wrote, "the success of the New York Times, which added online subscribers without significant losses of casual Web readers or print subscribers, provided some encouragement" to urging the Post to adopt a paywall.



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