The Chicago Sun-Times, after months of rumors, has taken down its paywall and is providing content free to anyone who shares an email address, according to NPR.
The tabloid instituted a paywall in 2018. But the Sun-Times was then acquired by Chicago Public Media, owner of WBEZ Chicago, the city’s NPR station.
The paper now offers unlimited online access to readers who register.
It is “dropping our paywall and making it possible for anyone to read our website for free by providing nothing more than an email address,” the paper announced last week, according to NiemanLab. “Instead of a paywall, we are launching a donation-based digital membership program that will allow readers to pay what they can to help us deliver the news you rely on."
The Sun-Times continues, “It’s a bold move: Reporting the news is expensive, and the converging market forces of inflation and an anticipated (or possibly already here) recession could further endanger local newsrooms like ours. But we know it’s the right thing to do.”
The paywall was built on a metered plan, in which users would get 20 free pages views every 30 days and be charged for anything beyond that, The Wrap reported.
Once owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Sun-Times has joined a growing number of publications that operate as nonprofits.
This is in contrast to rival daily, The Chicago Tribune, which was acquired last year along with numerous other papers in the Tribune company, by Alden Global Capital, a firm known for aggressive cost-cutting.
The Sun-Times now has 28,000 digital subscribers, and print circulation of 63,000 daily and 70,000 on Sunday.