La Nación takes a chance in asking readers to pay for their news

The Spanish-language daily La Nación has made the decision to set up a paywall for its digital edition.

The newspaper said that the first page will continue to be free and those who do not subscribe can see 15 pages free each month. Editorials will continue to be free.

The newspaper seeks 500 colons a month, less than $1, for the first three months. Then the price goes up to 3,000 colons a month. There are also packages with the print edition and with the company’s El Financiero financial newspaper.

This is  a risky move for Grupo Nacion GN S.A. Paywalls have been successful elsewhere, particularly with top-of-the-line news sites like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

They also have been successful at small town newspapers where the publisher has a monopoly on local news.

And they have been successful for sites like where a specialized product caters to gamblers.

La Nación does not seem to fit any of these categories.

Instead, the daily newspaper market has at least three major competitors: El Diario Extra, CR Hoy and La República. There are a  host of smaller online publications, and many publish specialized and locally generated news. Then there are the scavenger sites that steal the news from the larger publications.

Of the three, only CR Hoy is digital only. The others have major investments in the printing process.

The American Press Institute, a U.S. research and educational organization, said that The Times has in excess nacion062215of 700,000 paid subscribers and the revenue stream is worth tens of millions of dollars.

Over the last five years, however, a number of major U.S. newspapers have eliminated paywalls, some in favor of a metering system. Others, like the Atlantic magazine, have adopted related business to provide income. Atlantic created Atlantic Books, noted the Poynter Institute, a Florida organization that trains newspaper professionals.

The San Francisco Chronicle dropped its paywall after six months in 2013, said Poynter.

The American Journalism Review magazine reported a year ago that Dutch media companies have created a national paywall through which most major newspaper can be reached. It said that  Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland did the same.

Even though La Nación charges thousands of dollars for a daily ad, the money is far from profit. Newsprint approaches $800 a ton, although some cheaper prices prevail in China. Delivery and retail sales also are expensive.

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