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Coming soon: a charge for online access



Last modified: Sunday, April 24, 2011
In the seven months that I have been publisher I've made some subtle changes to the Concord Monitor.

Today I am announcing several that are anything but subtle.

On May 3 the Monitor will start charging for unlimited access to our website, concordmonitor.com. Current subscribers will continue to receive free, unlimited access until it is time to renew their subscriptions when we will offer the service for pennies a day.

At the same time we will begin launching a variety of new online products to make what is already a valuable local institution even more important to our readers.

These include an electronic version of the paper that reproduces the actual pages as well as mobile and iPad editions.

There will be a redesigned website that is easier to navigate and read and that has more useful information. You might have noticed that we've already added TV grids, a movie page with trailers and show times, a financial tool to track stocks and the markets, and an enhanced obituaries page with guest books. To that we are adding an expanded weather page from AccuWeather and more topic pages about important issues in the news.

Our newsroom has been honored with the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other national and statewide awards. Achieving and maintaining the level of excellence you've come to expect is not cheap, and I - like many publishers in New Hampshire and across the country - think it is only fair to ask online readers to start paying a part of those costs.

After all, we're your watchdog and your marketplace of ideas and commerce. We celebrate your successes and help mourn your losses.

We are your best community connector. Nowhere can you find the depth and breadth of local news and information to match the Monitor.

This change does not mean everything will be behind what's known as a pay wall as at some newspapers. Instead, you can read up to five local stories for free every month. After that, we'll ask you to register. Then you'll be entitled to five more free articles that month.

All of our obituaries, classifieds, advertisements, movie and TV listings, stock listings, weather pages, and national news will always be free to read and will not count against the 10 free articles each month. This includes all articles and videos by the Associated Press, the largest and, in my opinion, the best news gathering organization in the world. That is something you won't find in print or online at many other New Hampshire newspapers. (I may be prejudiced because I started my career with the AP.)

Current print subscribers will see a 25 cent per week increase on their next bill for unlimited online access to concordmonitor.com and all the new features, including access to a mobile edition and an e-edition you can view on your iPad or tablet. Subscribers can opt out of that addition. But at less than 4 cents a day we hope they will see the value and continue with the full online subscription, along with their print subscription.

Subscribers who are not already taking advantage of it can also switch to our monthly EZPay program that automatically charges their credit card for only $17 a month - a 13 percent savings from our regular home delivery rate and a whopping 40 percent off the single copy rate.

Another bonus: Annual subscribers who opt for unlimited access at renewal will also receive four additional weeks' free delivery of the printed edition as a thank-you.

For those who don't want the paper delivered every day but still want the hundreds of dollars in savings from coupons, the TV book, comics and other special advertising inserts only in the Sunday paper, we have a unique deal. Our Sunday Special allows unlimited online access with home delivery of the Sunday paper for only $7.99 a month.

We are also offering online-only subscriptions for $1 a day, $9.99 a month and $99 a year.

(Note that the Sunday print-online special is cheaper than getting the paper online only - an even better deal.)

Let me end by saying thank you to all our loyal readers from the hundreds of employees and independent contractors who work tirelessly to provide the best news, advertising and information for central New Hampshire that can be found anywhere.

(Publisher John Winn Miller can be reached at 369-3250 or jwmiller@cmonitor.com.)