12:23PM, Thursday 25 February 2021
The local newspaper industry is evolving and diversifying at a pace never seen before in our long and proud history. The Advertiser and Express are evolving too, putting our readers at the heart of our thinking and our commercial plans. That’s why we’re introducing more choices for you about how to access and pay for our digital products.
Technology has given publishers new ways to reach and engage with readers instantly: news and information you once had to wait a week for is now waiting for you in your pocket whenever you want it.
Never has access to local news been more vital than during the coronavirus pandemic. Our job has been to provide key local information and help to dispel myths that often spread unchallenged on social media, as well as scrutinising decisions being made now which will affect residents long after this is all over. Even in an emergency, accountability matters.
Sadly, one thing technology has not improved has been our ability to make money. As advertising spending moves from print to digital, advertising profits largely go to the tech giants. Without a reliable source of revenue, we can’t be sure of our ability to keep serving the needs of our growing readership.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the already-urgent need for change across the whole industry. Across the country, more than 50 local titles have already been suspended or closed, and the financial impact of the past year will be felt long after the lockdown is lifted.
We know that readers value our content, rather than the advertising around it. Increasing the value of that content and increasing our ability to invest in making more of what we know you need and want, is the only way for local newspapers. We can’t do that by giving everything away for free.
For some time now, the Advertiser and Express has been using the Axate pay-as-you-go system to charge a small amount for some of the articles we produce. Many of our readers have embraced it and done their bit to help fund and support journalism in a sustainable way. I thank you for this.
Now, we want to give you even more choice when it comes to accessing our paid-for content online. We are introducing a new subscription service which will give readers unlimited access to all our online articles.
This service uses the same Axate system many of you are already signed up for and gives readers the option between continuing to pay for articles individually or paying a monthly fee to access as much content as they wish. For the first six months, this will only be £2 a month across all our websites.
As before, some articles will still be available to read for free, including vital public health information about the pandemic. Also, as before, if you prefer to pay casually and per-article, you still can. You can even switch between the two ways to pay any time you like.
This new subscription service comes at an exciting time for the Advertiser and Express as we plan for the future and look for better ways to serve our readers.
The financial pressure of the pandemic and homeworking has meant we haven’t been able to do everything we have wanted to over the past year – and I thank readers for their patience and understanding – but with the vaccine rollout gathering pace and hope on the horizon, we want to look to a world beyond coronavirus.
Over the coming months, we will be introducing new digital content to better serve our audiences, as well as giving readers new ways to access and engage with our content. Watch this space.
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Print and Digital Editor
Baylis Media Ltd
A cross-party coalition of 28 councillors from three different factions has been formed at Wokingham Borough Council.