Postmedia takes the paywall plunge

Two Postmedia “tester” papers took the paywall plunge Wednesday. As of 1 p.m., readers of the Montreal Gazette and the Victoria Times Colonist will have free access to 20 pieces of “premium” online content — articles, photo galleries, videos — each month before being asked to pay.

The pilot project is inspired by the New York Times, which launched its own metered paywall experiment in March. Like the two Postmedia papers, visitors to the NYT website can read 20 articles max each month before hitting the wall.

Those who subscribe to the printed editions of the Gazette and Times Colonist will have free access to the papers’ online counterparts. Those who don’t will be asked to pay $6.95 a month for unrestricted access, or $69.95 per year. Blogs and breaking news are not part of the paywall.

Alan Allnutt, Gazette publisher and editor-in-chief, wrote about the switch in an article posted to the Gazette’s website:

“A great deal has been written about the economics of publishing newspapers in 2011. The ‘old’ model — selling newsprint products very cheaply to readers and selling the audience to advertisers for the majority of income — is increasingly challenged. Simply transferring advertisers from print to online may not work for all. To continue our investment in the quality and depth of our award-winning journalism and offer you the features and functions you want from our website, we believe we have to find new sources of revenue.”

What do you think? Great move, or big blunder?