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Common Ground | Here’s why we changed to a pay wall

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This past week, we made a major change to our web site to require that people become subscribers to see all of the rich local content that we produce on a daily basis.

Most people have been understanding about the need for us to make the change and a number of them have chosen to become online subscribers. Some folks, understandably, have taken issue with our new approach, and I really can’t blame them. When you’re used to getting access to everything for free, it can be annoying to be asked to start paying for the privilege. Nevertheless, that’s what we need to do as a business.

The logic of the decision is straightforward: We want to give those who subscribe to our print or digital editions the greatest benefit of the work that our staff produces. We are following in the footsteps of a growing number of news outlets to go away from the “everything is free” model. I suspect most people understand that hiring staffers such as reporters, editors and photographers costs money. The last time I checked, they preferred not to work for free.

Until six months ago, we had a pay wall in place that allowed people lots of free views, but people found it very easy to work around the system by opening different browsers. So we took our time re-engineering our approach and decided to be a little more decisive. I am pleased that we do allow all readers, whether they are subscribers or not, to read the first few graphs of stories. They get a taste of the content.

Plus, not everything is behind the pay wall. Everyone can still access all of our videos, obituaries, classified ads, display ads and blogs, to name a few. When big news breaks, we’ll make that available for free as well.

We have exciting plans on the digital front that include building lots more digital content that connects our community in important ways. We have a new digital team in place, with Andrea Andrus managing the effort, designer Gary Hesse, content coordinator Kelli Scott and web site designer and social media consultant Russ Alman. The media landscape is changing dramatically and we’re responding creatively to build our community and stay relevant to our readers and online users. I can safely predict there will be continual changes and adaptions. What works today may not work tomorrow.

I’d like to thank our loyal readers and advertisers for allowing us to serve them and our communities. We remain committed to making a positive difference in North Central Washington.

Reach Rufus Woods at 509-665-1162 or .