CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The Chicago Sun-Times said Wednesday it would shift over to a subscription-based online publication although some of its pages would be available for free.
Along with its affiliated Chicago publications, the newspaper's Web site will allow 20 free visits per month for non-paying consumers and after that will block access to much of the online content, the newspaper said.
Subscriptions will cost $1.99 for those who have a home delivery subscription to the Chicago Sun-Times or one of its suburban affiliates. For those who do not have a home delivery subscription, online content past the 20 free pages per month will cost $6.99 for a four-week subscription.
"We think the time is long overdue for us to begin charging for our content. It is certainly award-winning content and we need to find new ways to support it," said Jeremy Halbreich, Sun-Times Media chairman.
Charging consumers for online news is a serious gamble for newspapers caught between the erosion of circulation and advertising in their paper editions and the enormous number of alternatives available on the Internet.
Blocking viewers from content can mean blocking viewers from advertising. However, a few notable exceptions -- The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are examples -- are trying to strike a balance online between advertising and subscription revenues.
L. Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal said, the Sun-Times "has a lot of loyal followers."
The Sun-Times said local classified advertising pages -- including legal notices, death notices and local advertising -- would remain free.
The subscription system is scheduled to start Thursday.