Changes coming to The Western Star’s website

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Subscribers to The Western Star will have an all access pass which will give them full access to the print, e-edition as well as the website at no additional costs.

CORNER BROOK — The Western Star is making some changes to help the leading news source of western Newfoundland meet the growing demands of the digital public.

Beginning Thursday, The Western Star’s website, TheWesternStar.com, will switch to a metered access site.  

The Western Star joins a long list of news organizations in Canada and the United States to charge for access to their websites. That list includes some of the most prestigious news brands in the country, including the Globe and Mail, National Post and the Ottawa Citizen. U.S. papers including the New York Times and L.A. Times are also metering their website content.

All content on TheWesternStar.com remains free but when the amount of content read reaches six pages for a 30-day period, The Star will invite the reader to become a digital subscriber. To continue reading breaking news, in-depth stories, opinion pieces, videos, photo galleries and reader comments, non-subscribers can sign up for a digital-only subscription. It’s just 99 cents for the first month. That subscription then renews automatically at a rate of $7.96 per month.

Subscribers will continue to have complete access to The Western Star across all platforms: paper, e-edition and the website. The “all-access pass” will give subscribers unrestricted website usage, moving them past the metered controls.

Throughout its 113-year history, The Western Star has always been mindful of the need to continuously transform and reinvent itself to remain relevant in the changing media landscape and especially to readers, says managing editor Troy Turner.

“We’re picking up a trend that has crossed the continent,” said Turner. “The reality is it costs us a great deal of money to produce the stories, photos and videos we provide our readers on our website.”

The Western Star has always charged a nominal free for the printed newspaper, so the meter will be nothing new to its valued subscribers. The Star has never, however, charged for expanded web content, which is simply not a sustainable business model any longer.

The Western Star’s website remains one of the most dominant websites in the province, reaching more than 100,000 unique visitors and nearly one million pageviews every month. It offers exclusive content and provides readers with a balanced, objective read in navigating the issues that matter most to them.

“The Star prides itself in community journalism, and its ability to sift through an issue to offer stories that are unbiased in their approach and agenda-free. The steps we’re taking with the introduction of a meter will allow us to continue delivering the coverage you’ve come to expect from us over the past 113 years,” said Turner.

Print readers and subscribers won’t be paying anything extra when The Star moves to a metered website. In fact, The Western Star plans to enhance their reading options.

Organizations: The Star, Globe and Mail, National Post Ottawa Citizen New York Times L.A. Times

Geographic location: Western Star, United States, Newfoundland Canada

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Recent comments

  • Drew Kane
    February 20, 2014 - 20:17

    I hope this decision comes back to bite them where it hurts. Capitalism is a sickness. Support FREE AND OPEN media, not this closed, money-grubbing corporation.

  • Devil's Advocate
    January 27, 2014 - 21:37

    If the readers use the "Ghostery" plugin in their browsers, they can simply turn off the "press+" pay wall and continue reading what they want.

  • ang
    January 22, 2014 - 12:25

    They should add more stories/coloumns that are worth reading say for example, Western NL history. There just doesn't seem to be enough effort being put into it and that's a shame because they have been around since 1900. I wouldn't want the western star to be like the humber log; a has been.

    • Bob Batstone
      January 22, 2014 - 17:07

      Exellant point ang. I meant to mention the Humber Log as well. Don't get me wrong, I want the Western Star to succeed. But it is foolish to think the Western Star will always be, just because it has existed up until now. It will continue to exist, if it listens to what THE PEOPLE want. When it stops listening to the people, it ceases to be relevant, and people start looking somewhere else for answers. Just ask Kathy Dunderdale ...... she is proof that people will look elsewhere, when they are ignored. Can you here me Western Star? Thank you for this chance to communicate..and please reconsider.

  • Bob Batstone
    January 22, 2014 - 11:20

    Charging for web access. Wow, add that to a list of smart decisions, like New Coke, and calling power outages "not a crisis", charging for web access is a WRONG decision, and history will prove it. I will use 1 of my 6 free page views, to read the next headline for the Western Star. ....Western Star shutting down after 113 years... Change this tactic before you allienate readers even more. Is Kathy Dunderdale now running the Western Star? Sure seems like it...

  • Edward Smith
    January 21, 2014 - 21:22

    Seems like business decisions on how to run the Star are being made hundreds of miles away at Quebecor -- or whomever owns the Star this month. It looks like it will get harder and harder to get local news and stories..... And isn't CBC TV in the province supposed to soon pack up and move to Halifax ?? -- after all, Canada ends at Halifax for CBC bureaucrats who live in Upper Canada. We soon will be back to the days before 1900 (the year the Star first published) when you had to go to a general store in Curling (Birchy Cove) -- or the little village known as Corner Brook -- to get all the news. It is hard to believe with Corner Brook's aging population that the Star cannot produce a sold-out daily newspaper crammed with local stories as well as the history of the Bay of Islands and the west coast. I remember spending one summer in the 1960s researching the history of the Bay of Islands. It was absolutely fascinating. One woman even claimed that Charlie Chaplin once came through the area on the train from Port-aux-Basques! Now that is a story I'd like to read about...

  • CBGirl
    January 21, 2014 - 20:07

    Yes, I understand the meter. Yes, I understand I'll get headlines. I also understand the Western Star is a business. You have employees who need to be paid amd shareholders who like dividends. But I do not agree with this. Comparing The Western Star to the Globe and Mail is like comparing a tricycle to a 10 speed. One specific difference is the number of actual headlines. Business news actually put in the Business section. Lifestyles in Lifestyles. Sports in Sports. And so on. Heck, local news for the Western Star includes stories from St Johns most of the time. And how many newspapers are in between? If you can divide up yoir headlines to actually go into the proper sections, this would be wonderful. Skip the one liner stories 'with the more to follow' or ' see tuesdays star'. In a year, I'd love to see the stats on page views. If anything, VOCM just gained a lot more readers. And how will this affect what I can see via the mobile version? There are no technical headlines there.

  • D. B. (Russ) Powell
    January 21, 2014 - 17:36

    Living and working in my home town, Corner Brook, until retirement in 1997, I faithfully purchased and read The Western Star until it changed ownership (again) and the editorial and local/regional news content (yet again) began going further downhill. But I kept getting the newspaper delivered to our home for one reason: our paper carrier was such a fine, dependable young man that I didn't want to disappoint him. However, the time came when I finally had to do it, and I told our carrier that my wife and I were cancelling our subscription. His reaction: "I don't blame you, Mr. Powell. There's nothing in it anyway." And that's my response to having to pay to read The Western Star online. Truthfully: the only reason I do anyway. When the "Star's" editorial and local/regional news content reaches the level that it used to back-in-the-day when the paper was 'locally-owned', I'll subscribe again. But, somehow, I can't see that happening

  • AndroidGeek
    January 21, 2014 - 16:00

    Smartphonee's have an app called Flip Board. Very useful...it's free and has a lot of great content that is organized based on your interest or even region. Paying for subscription is a setup for failure. Soon enough the printed copies won't even be available as people switch to technology instead of paper..they say bye bye western star as you'll have everyone already against you. I can understand if you were stopping prints but still pre ting the paper and charging for online access is the worst tactic ever

  • lobster
    January 21, 2014 - 15:30

    Goodbye..it's been nice to read you, Western Star.

  • reader
    January 21, 2014 - 15:13

    Count me out also.

  • alex
    January 21, 2014 - 13:39

    Such a shame...always did enjoy to get up in the morning and can easily access the news about what going on but now this will be implemented. Guess i'll have to find something else online. Guess its all about the money money but than again it's a business what can you expect from it but shameful it has to happen, thank you management for the bad decision.

    • WESTERN STAR
      January 21, 2014 - 13:58

      Thanks for the comment. There's plenty you can continue to read for free or you can pay the nominal fee and read an unlimited amount of stories. Our homepage and all of our landing pages are excluded from the meter, which means you will still get all our our headlines as well as some other reader features, like obituaries, even after we install the meter. Thanks again for the comment.

  • Mark
    January 21, 2014 - 11:41

    I applaud this direction The Western Star is taking. The comments section for any given article is 99% negative anyway. Where else in this world do you obtain free service? How long can anyone expect an organization to put time & money into something and get nothing in return? It's all well and good to be active and concerned in our community by keeping informed on what is happening, and even taking the time to post a comment, but I've spent a lot of time on the comments section of the website and there's very little - if anything - that can be called constructive. Put your money where your mouth is. If you want to keep complaining on this website about every single thing that happens on the west coast, put your money where your mouth is. If not, buh bye.

    • Max
      January 21, 2014 - 15:05

      I guess the newspaper gives all the advertisers space for free, after all it is a free service.

  • Donna Browning-Perkins
    January 21, 2014 - 11:29

    You have lost me as a reader as well...I liked to "read" the Western Star every morning with my cup of coffee; sitting in my place in Cobourg, Ontario to keep in touch with what was happening in the Bay of Islands area. Lately, the Tweets, Blogs, Ads, Links etc. - and stories about, and from, St. John's (of course) were distracting from the scarce articles that actually reflected the "pulse" of Corner Brook and Western Newfoundland...but I continued to read the articles that had some connection to Western Newfoundland. I do not think the rare interesting articles and information that the paper is offering now warrants me to "pay" in a metered arrangement. B' Bye ! It's been nice !

  • Cbrookrob
    January 21, 2014 - 11:19

    I assume a newspaper really only has two main revenue sources; paid subscriptions and advertising. Would be interesting to know how they break down percentage-wise. TV and radio are different because its almost exclusively generated by advertising. Quality and content aside, if revenue isn't coming in, who will pay the salaries of the folks who go to the sources of the story, compile the details (and pry where needed), compose the story and finally present it to us ( in paper or online)??? Without services like this, you'd probably be relying on cornerbrooker.com or the hype and hysteria that's on Twitter for your local news. Good luck with that!

  • Henry
    January 21, 2014 - 10:33

    You may have lost a reader. This paper is not worth what it is asking in terms if its content. I'll just move on to other sources...

  • Mr Corner Brook
    January 21, 2014 - 10:24

    Have to pay now??? At least we wont have to hear from David anymore.....

  • westcoaster
    January 21, 2014 - 10:24

    Get the news somewhere else, c ya western star!!

  • Jim
    January 21, 2014 - 09:23

    I gave up getting the paper delivered to my door many years ago because of lack of content for my local area. The web site was always a way to get the few reports that was truly local for me. As for paying for it, I don't need the stories that bad . Sorry folks. B Cing ya

  • FormerCBGal
    January 21, 2014 - 09:18

    Joe The Drummer hit the nail on the head..and incidentally, the New York Times allows you to read 3 articles free per DAY. I realize it's a tough world in the newspaper industry. Hardly anyone still reads "a paper". Who does Western Star think they are?! Wake up and smell the technology..or at least use it to bring customers in not chase them away with this kind of pricing. $8/month?! Not likely..bye bye.

  • Admin
    January 21, 2014 - 09:15

    Thanks for the comments, folks. Just a small point: we are installing a digital subscription model or a meter, not a pay wall. This means you will still have lots to read. Our homepage and all of our landing pages are excluded from the meter, which means you will still get all our our headlines — in every section — as well as some other reader features, like obituaries, even after we install the meter. Thanks again for the comments.

  • IAMtheJIB
    January 21, 2014 - 08:51

    If the content on this site compared to the other pay per read websites, I would be all for this. The problem is the content is poorly written with little regard to spelling, grammar or even valid content. Not only that, the website itself is terribly build, not conforming to common web standards and poorly hosted on slow servers with constant DNS problems. In my opinion, this move will decrease readership and increase customer churn to other media sources for the same or similar content. Especially since your expecting people to pay for ad supported content which is a major "no no" with respect to pay per view web content.

  • Chad Sheppard
    January 21, 2014 - 08:41

    I think it is ridiculous that you think readers will pay for your paper online. You will lose more readers than you gain. You make your money from advertising. Readers are the most important asset you have. When you tell you online advertisers what the new readership levels are.....why would they pay for online advertising? Most of your stories are police reports and water main shut downs. Not something worthy of buying. Good luck with the change, but your management is making a wrong decision.

  • Ed
    January 21, 2014 - 08:37

    Foolishness!

  • Bob
    January 21, 2014 - 08:24

    What you are missing in all of this -and don't take this the wrong way- is that the Westernstar is not, nor will it ever be in the same class as the other papers listed here. A small town newspaper with an already limited readership (when compared with the likes of those listed above) should offer as much for free as possible. While I'm sure it's not the choice of the good folks at the Westernstar, it sure is a disappointment to me and should be to advertisers as well. Say good bye to my daily visits that's for sure.

  • cbrookrob
    January 21, 2014 - 08:20

    As a paying subscriber, it did feel somewhat unfair that anyone could view for free the bigger stories online that I was paying for. Don't forget the Western Star is a business. It has bills to pay and local people it keeps employed and a committment to its Transcontinental shareholders (who wouldnt be long setting it adrift if it was bleeding money). Any business that gives away too much of its product wont be in business for long. Can't compare newsprint's web services to radio or TV. Completely different business models and drivers. And neither of these two has the depth of west coast presence or stories that the newpaper does; be it for a large story like developments at Kruger or something mundane (yet of interest to some) like last night's broomball scores or that someone got stopped for impaired in Piccadilly. (That being said, 6 reads a month does sound pretty stingy)

  • wtf
    January 21, 2014 - 08:19

    There's only one thing. Those other papers that have switch over to a fee system have a significant amount of content. The Western Star is more of a pamphlet. The amount of material could fit on one double sided page, even less when you factor out the content copied from the Telegram. If I'm going to pay to read the news then I'll choose the Telegram. The days are short for the Western Star.

  • Joe The Dummer
    January 21, 2014 - 08:18

    I fully understand why you might feel like you have to do this, but don't insult my intelligence by comparing yourself to the New York Times, etc. Thanks for the chuckle.

  • cbrookrob
    January 21, 2014 - 08:13

    As a paying subscriber, it did feel somewhat unfair that anyone could view for free the bigger stories online that I was paying for. Don't forget the Western Star is a business. It has bills to pay and local people it keeps employed and a committment to its Transcontinental shareholders (who wouldnt be long setting it adrift if it was bleeding money). Any business that gives away too much of its product wont be in business for long. Can't compare newsprint's web services to radio or TV. Completely different business models and drivers. And neither of these two has the depth of west coast presence or stories that the newpaper does; be it for a large story like developments at Kruger or something mundane (yet of interest to some) like last night's broomball scores or that someone got stopped for impaired in Piccadilly. (That being said, 6 reads a month does sound pretty stingy)

  • Kev
    January 21, 2014 - 07:59

    Six pages? Doomed.

  • Sid Dithers
    January 21, 2014 - 07:44

    Pay for a rag that posts 2 paragraph stories? Laughable.

  • IslanderGirl16
    January 21, 2014 - 07:08

    It's just a matter of time before The Telegram joins in. In the last year, the two Transcontinental papers here on PEI have gone to the metered system.

  • Citizen V
    January 21, 2014 - 07:08

    A pay wall? Really? To enhance readership? REALLY?? You realized that you just alienated your readership instead, right? Okay I get wanting to make a buck, fine. However why only 6 reads a month? Why not 10 or 15? That's how you increase readership not by slamming a wall down across your content. Guess I'll go support something non-local.

    • Jack
      January 21, 2014 - 08:00

      Citizen V, many major newspapers across Canada allow up to 10 free reads per month, especially "The Globe and Mail" and "The Chronicle Herald". The problem with "The Western Star" and other Transcontinental Media affiliated newspapers are that visitors only get six free reads per month as opposed to the industry standard of ten per month. The second problem is that the pay wall is being implemented in very short notice as opposed to one month notice. SHAME. Unless Transcontinental Media improves pay wall conditions such as increasing the number of free reads to ten per month and give reasonable notice for pay walls, they just shot themselves in the foot as "The Western Star" readership will go down.

  • Jack
    January 21, 2014 - 06:58

    Since no other Transcontinental Media affiliated newspapers in this province are implementing pay meters, but "The Western Star" are about to do it, it seem that the parent company are treating Western Newfoundlanders unfairly. A pay wall would be acceptable if it applied to all Transcontinental Media affiliated newspapers in this province, particularly "The Telegram". Secondly, since other newspapers allow 10 reads per month, but not "The Western Star", Western Newfoundlaners are being short changed. Take your pay wall a hike, "The Western Star".

  • dave
    January 21, 2014 - 06:04

    way to alienate your readers. six pages? no thanks. ill get my news from vocm from now on