Newsquest has given assurances that vital news and information covering the Covid-19 crisis will remain free to access as it introduces online subscriptions for all of its regional daily and some weekly titles.
Newsquest Editorial Development Director Toby Granville told the Society of Editors that coverage of the crisis would remain free to access as the publisher invites readers to sign-up for the new subscription plan to receive unlimited articles and up to an 80pc reduction in visible advertising.
“Users will not need to subscribe for coronavirus news updates so that this important local information remains free to all users. The majority of Newsquest’s local sites will continue to be entirely free to access,” he said.
“We continue to believe that the online local news model will be predominantly a free to access one for the foreseeable future.
“However, we have been running digital subscriptions across a number of our sites for some time with encouraging results, and we will now be extending this approach to 20 more large sites.
“By users only needing to register if they wish to read more than 20 articles per month, and only need to pay if they wish to consume more than 40 articles per month, we ensure that our local news sites remain the number one trusted community hub – typically read by more than 70pc of the local population – whilst also developing new revenues and new opportunities from data.”
Newsquest titles which have introduced paywall schemes in recent years include Glasgow daily The Herald, the Northern Echo and the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.
Other daily title Newsquest sites now featuring a subscribe option include the Daily Echo, Bournemouth; Brighton daily The Argus, Essex daily The Echo, Glasgow Times, the Oxford Mail, The Press in York, South Wales Argus, Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, and the Worcester News.
Weekly titles introducing the subscription model are: Hereford Times, Warrington Guardian, News Shopper, Watford Observer and Bucks Free Press
Readers are being invited to sign up to a subscription of either £4.99 per month or £52 per year. Visitors to the sites will be required to register after reading 20 articles in a month and will be asked to subscribe after reading 40.