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bilde-150x150The largest suburban Chicago newspaper announced that it’s moving to an online paid subscription-based content model. As WordPress continues to evolve the online publishing arena, is it – at the same time – contributing to the further demise of traditional print media? Can WordPress publishers see this an opportunity to further explore paid content options as readers become more familiar with paying for what they read?

The Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper and the third overall largest newspaper in the Chicago market, announced today that it will start charging online customers to read their news. The move comes as the struggling paper seeks to retain reporters to allow for their signature micro-coverage of the vast suburban market.

Douglas K. Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO of Paddock Publications, which operates the Herald explains the move in a report published on the paper’s website.

“We invest significantly in reporters and editors and an infrastructure that provides tailored coverage of local news, suburban business developments, politics and entertainment as well as sports from the pro levels to preps. We believe that what we do has value to our readers and to the community. A new payment structure will enable us to continue to provide the kind of quality local news and the journalism expected from the Daily Herald.”

For non-print subscribers, unlimited access starts at $19.99 a month and will allow for access on all digital platforms. The paper currently only offers a desktop web version. (An iPad/iPhone app are touted for the future.) The new policy does allows for non-subscribers to access a small number of free page views within a 30-day window before access to the site is restricted.

The Daily Herald is the first Chicago-based daily newspaper to rollout an online content subscription. Crain’s Chicago Business follows a similar model with their weekly business print version and digital access for about $99 a year.