Pay walls and hyper-local biz news sites


Eric Mark Do of PBS MediaShift looks at the use of pay walls for hyper-local business news sites.

Do writes, “Canada’s largest newspaper company is launching two hyper-local business sites in a bid to duplicate the success of one of Canada’s only profitable online news operations.

“ launched several months ago, and will go live this month. Both are the creation of Torstar Inc., which owns the Toronto Star, Metroland, and Metro newspapers. The industry has been shedding jobs and centralizing operations, but Torstar executives are betting local business people will pay to read about each other.

“‘Business news has been more sort of leading edge because I think the information is more valuable to the audience,’ said Bruce Leslie, publisher and editor of YourMississaugaBiz. ‘If we can do stories on a company’s competitors or business environment, public policy that affects business, then that becomes important to them and it becomes valuable and they’re willing to pay.’

“The sites seem to be modeled on, a Halifax-based business site that launched in 2001 with a hard pay wall and a subscription price of $20 a month. The site was profitable immediately, and today generates roughly $2 million in revenues a year and employs 11 full-time journalists. Former managing editor of AllNovaScotia Kevin Cox seems skeptical of the Torstar experiments.”

Read more here.