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Sun-Times Web Sites To Go Behind Pay Wall

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Come Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times will no longer be available for free online.

As WBBM Newsradio's Lisa Fielding reports, the Sun-Times says its Web site and the sites of its regional newspapers will go behind a pay wall starting Thursday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Lisa Fielding reports


Web site users will be granted 20 free page views of any Sun-Times affiliated site every 30 days. But afterward, they will have to buy an online subscription.

The Sun-Times says online subscriptions will cost $1.99 for a four-week period for existing home delivery customers. Those who do not have home delivery will be charged $6.99 every four weeks, or $77.87 for a full year.

Any of the 40 newspapers within the Sun-Times Media system will qualify for the $1.99 rate, the Sun-Times reported.

The other papers include the SouthtownStar, the Naperville Sun, the Aurora Beacon-News, the Lake County News-Sun, the Elgin Courier-News, the Joliet Herald-News, the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, and the Pioneer Press weekly Sun papers.

Some parts of the Web site will remain free, and won't count toward the 20-page limit. These include visits to the homepage and section front pages such as those with the news and sports headlines.

Sun-Times Media chairman Jeremy Halbreich is quoted in the paper, "We think the time is long overdue for us to begin charging for our content," which has won awards and needs to be supported in new ways.

The Web site for the Arlington Heights-based Daily Herald went behind a pay wall in early September. While all of the newspaper's digital content was accessible for free prior to that date, the Daily Herald now only allows 15 page views for month before users must pay.

Print subscribers are charged $1 per week, while non-subscribers are charged $19.99 for 30 days.

In the Daily Herald's own article about its decision to impose a pay wall, Douglas Ray, chief executive officer of parent company Paddock Publications said, "It is our intention that no one without a subscription will have ongoing access" to any Daily Herald content, be it on paper or online.

Ray said in the article that the pay wall was necessitated by "simple, unavoidable economics," because newspapers cannot create "the kind of journalism the community deserves" with funding from advertising dollars alone.

The Sun-Times points out that newspapers have been hesitant to charge for access, since users have the option of looking elsewhere to get their news for free.

The Chicago Tribune still offers full access for free. Among major national papers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal charge for online access, but the Washington Post still allows for free access.

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