In a bold move, The Mesabi Daily News and its sister papers — The Hibbing Daily Tribune and The Grand Rapids Herald-Review — plan to begin charging for their online products this week.
As of Wednesday, the online version of The Mesabi Daily News will be available for free to people who subscribe to the print edition of the newspaper, which sells for $4 per week, delivered. People who want to view the publication only in electronic form will be charged a monthly fee of $6.95.
"We’ve been giving away our most valuable resource — our news content — for too long," said Bill Hanna, co-publisher and executive editor of The Mesabi Daily News.
He noted that many readers of the on-line version of the paper currently provide no revenue to the company.
"Our print customers have been subsidizing our online readers. Meanwhile, our newsrooms have been cut," he said.
At present, the Mesabi Daily News has a daily print circulation of about 9,500 and has an online audience of about 18,000 registered guests, according to Hanna.
What will that online audience look like after The Mesabi Daily News begins charging customers for access? Hanna says we’ll have to wait and see.