The days of free online news seem to be drawing to a close, at least among local media outlets in Norway. After years of declining circulation for paper editions, with readers switching over to online editions where stories have been accessible for free, the papers have had enough.
In December, newspaper Sandfjords Blad will lock up its online content, making it available only to those who pay NOK 100 (USD 16) per month for it or to those who pay for a more expensive subscription to the paper edition. Newspaper subscribers will get free access to both online and mobile content.
“The time has come to stop thinking about ‘paper, Internet or mobile’ when we create content,” Sandefjords Blad editor Jan Roaldset told newspaper Aftenposten, which also plans to start charging for various forms of online content.
Several other local papers that offer news not found in many other media outlets are also moving towards subscription programs. Hallingdølen, the newspaper serving Hallingdal, closed its website as has Møre-Nytt in western Norway, while Dagsavisen, Tønsbergs Blad and Budstikka also are turning to various payment systems.
It’s harder for the large, national newspapers to do so and remain competitive, not least since non-commercial Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)’s site is expected to remain open and free. But Aftenposten and VG are charging for their iPad editions.