San Francisco Chronicle and Irish papers join paywall move

San Francisco chronicle launches paywallThe San Francisco Chronicle has launched a paywall around its premium content as it becomes the latest major US newspaper to make the leap to paid content.

The Chronicle follows the Washington Post, which last week announced its plans for a metered paywall, and its fellow Californian paper the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times put up its paywall in February.

News of the Chronicle’s move comes as it is being reported that the Irish Independent and Irish Times are to begin charging for access to news content this year, according to a report in the FT.

The Hearst-owned newspaper has built a new site for its in-depth articles, columnists and photos, which will now reside at SFChronicle.com.

The clean layout and uncluttered design of the new site echoes that of the print title.

The Chronicle said premium stories and columns would update and change with the news throughout the day.

Subscribers will also have full access to the Chronicle’s coverage of sports and the outdoors, the arts and entertainment, as well as business, technology and food.

The existing SFGate.com site will continue, for now at least, to exist as a free-to-access website focusing on breaking news, local and national news, weather, traffic, sports, entertainment and pop culture.

The Irish Independent and Irish Times are expected to begin charging for access to news content this year. The Sunday Business Post, a TCH title, already has a paid subscription model.

Mark Adkins president of the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate, said: “SFChronicle.com is one more step in this Chronicle’s journey through the digital age. It gives subscribers another option for getting the news and information they value from the Chronicle in a digital format organised like a newspaper and easy to use.”

Subscription packages include a $12 a month offer for access across all digital platforms, including SFChronicle.com, its iPad app, the e-edition, and other apps and digital products, plus home delivery of the Sunday paper.

In Ireland the move to paywalls will end free content from the country’s two biggest newspapers.

The Irish Times and Irish Independent have both seen their circulations fall. Between July and end-December 2012, the circulations of the three main quality daily newspapers – The Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner – fell by 24%-30% in the past six years.

Matt Dempsey, chairman of the National Newspapers of Ireland, told the FT: “Newspapers have been giving away their content for free, which has hit circulation pretty significantly.”