Paid subscriptions coming for Clearwater Times online

Subscribing to the paper edition will give full access to www.clearwatertimes.com website at no extra charge

As of April 23, all Clearwater-North Thompson Times subscribers will enjoy full access to the newspaper’s premium online content on at no additional cost.

This is an important step as part of a growing industry trend to reward our loyal readers with free unlimited access to all the local coverage you expect from your community newspaper.

That means all website content, including our eEditions (a digital replica of the paper), is now included in the cost of your paid subscription.

April 23, the first day for subscribers to activate their digital account, the Times will publish details about the premium content plan and how it will work.

Starting April 23, print subscribers can go to clearwatertimes.com to sign up for digital access.

April 23, new clients can subscribe for $61.60 per year to an all-access package, which includes the print edition and premium online content.

Readers who want to forgo the print edition, or who live outside the Times’ delivery area, will still be able to access digital-only premium content for $61.60 per year.

With this step, the Clearwater Times joins scores of paid-circulation community newspapers in cities large and small across the country that are recognizing the value of their online content, Clearwater Times publisher Al Kirkwood said.

“Our next-generation products such as our online content and e-editions, play an important part of our future,” Kirkwood said.

“We will deliver the news and information to readers when they want it, where they want it and, most importantly, how they want it.”

While recognizing the value of the unique, local content created by the newsroom staff at the Clearwater Times, Kirkwood also appreciates the realities of a free-access Internet.

“We understand that news outside of what our local reporters generate can be had elsewhere and for free, but there are literally thousands of such stories each day,” he said.

“The stories written by our staff are uniquely Clearwater; there is an inherent value in that – we appreciate it, our print subscribers appreciate it – and it should be recognized in all facets of our industry, including the emerging online component.”

Subscribers will enjoy privileges that include ability to forward stories via email or social media accounts, participate in online discussions and access all content.

Non-subscribers still will have free digital access to limited areas, such as provincial news, our website’s front page and section fronts, blogs, classifieds and obituaries, Kirkwood said.

And when Breaking News happens locally, that too will be available to all site visitors at no charge.

The Times’ all-access paid premium print and online model represents next-generation thinking for the newspaper industry, Kirkwood said.

“Frankly, our industry could have adopted this paid-premium online approach years ago, but the thinking was always on page views and unique site visits,” he said.

“We all thought that, the more circulation you had – in this case, page views – the more desirable for advertisers. But people utilize advertising on the Internet differently.”

He said the evolution to valuing online content is “… simply another tool in our kit. We have always been a media company.”

Kirkwood has been reticent to charge for online content, considering it may impact page views. However, he is confident the hyper-local nature of content created by Clearwater Times staff will win the day.

“If we have something that no one else can produce, readers might be willing to pay for it,” he said.

“We have that audience through the Clearwater Times – and we owe it to our print readers to share the same respect for them with our online product.”

Kirkwood expects there may be an initial decline in page views during the transition to e-subscriptions. However, he knows it will be minimal, and short-lived as the products value gains traction.

“What’s encouraging is we will show our advertisers a dedicated readership that is committed to the Clearwater Times brand – in print and online.”