Akron Beacon Journal Going to a Membership Model on Ohio.com

We openly acknowledge the relevance that the local media has with the Cleveland Browns, so when something happens to that media outlet, I feel it is a worthy topic to cover. Earlier today, the Akron Beacon Journal announced that their online content on Ohio.com is moving to a subscription model; non-subscribers will be able to read seven articles per month at no charge.

This is how it will work: On Ohio.com, you can view seven articles each month at no charge. After seven articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site. The cost for a digital-only subscription, which includes the digital replica edition of the newspaper, is $11 per month.

How does this effect Browns fans? Nate Ulrich covers the Browns for the ABJ, so a lot of his content might be behind a pay wall now. Ulrich also posts a lot of good content to a "blogs" section on the ABJ, and I believe that material does not go to the print edition. It's unclear whether that section will count toward the limit for readers, though.

The Canton Repository has a similar model; they charge $9.99 per month, but every month, the first five articles for readers are free. Steve Doerschuk covers the Browns for the Canton Repository, and he has a Fresh Brownies blog where he posts some of his content. The rest of his observations go into the Browns section and count toward the limit.

The newspaper business continues to go through a tough transition. My objection to a pay model would be that if there are a lot of alternatives available, who is going to incur an extra bill of $132 a year? The ABJ is much bigger than "just the Browns," but sports is pretty much the only reason I pay attention to it. With that in mind, Cleveland.com, ESPNCleveland.com, and 923thefan.com are still free, as are blogs such as ourselves and WFNY. A good layout and then finding targeted advertising is the route to go if you're not the cream of the crop newspaper (i.e. the WSJ or the NYTimes), so I have a hard time believing that the ABJ's model will succeed.

Do we have any regular Akron readers who this might effect?

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