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Around the Region

Herald considering website fee

By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / October 20, 2009

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The Boston Herald may charge for access to its website as early as next year, according to the paper.

Speaking on a local media panel yesterday, Herald owner and publisher Patrick J. Purcell said a paid subscription for his paper’s online content is likely. But he also acknowledged that it would be difficult to do it alone.

“If the Globe doesn’t do it, then it would be hard for us to do it,’’ Purcell told the Herald.

Through an assistant, Purcell declined further comment.

Globe spokesman Robert Powers said the Globe has no plans for charging for content on its website, Boston.com, “but we continue to review online pay models that would generate new revenue streams.’’

As more advertisers and readers migrate to the Internet and as newspapers’ print circulation drops, many news outlets are evaluating ways to charge for access to content on their websites without driving traffic away.

Some newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, already charge for access to some online content.

One local media observer said he believes that most papers will eventually charge some kind of website fee.

“The question is, who goes first?’’ said Lou Ureneck, chairman of Boston University’s school of journalism.

“It would be very difficult for the Boston Herald to put its content behind a pay wall if The Boston Globe doesn’t. We will start to see newspapers stepping forward very soon. It’s inevitable. It’s the only way to sustain these (news) organizations,’’ Ureneck said.