Students reconsider news outlet with paywall


The Winnipeg Free Press will be introducing a paywall on their website at the end of April, and students are unsure where they’ll go for local news.

The Winnipeg Free Press payment structure is the first of its kind among newspapers, allowing you to subscribe monthly for $16.99 or pay 27 cents per article, much like you pay per song on iTunes. If you already subscribe to the daily print copy, you have the online access included.

“Our goal was to come up with a system that works. And in my mind, the key to a system that works is one that reflects the reality of online purchasing,” Paul Samyn, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, said in an email. “What we are doing is offer¬ing readers options that are a first for newspapers in North America that have some form of paid content strategy.”

The feedback received so far has been encouraging, Samyn said, and even though some people say the newspaper is making a mistake, there are many more rooting for the change.

“Many not only see the value in the approach we are taking, but also want us to succeed because they recognize the importance of the Free Press to our city and province,” said Samyn.

The importance of the publication, however, isn’t enough to get some students to click and pay up.

“As a student, I’m always just trying to save money,” said Connor Hemmett, a business administration student at Red River College. “If it’s important news, I’ll be able to find it elsewhere.”

Micky Humphrey, a human resource management student at the University of Manitoba, is also wary of how the cost could add up.

“I like to read the local news and sports while I’m at work, and can sometimes have five to ten articles open at once,” Humphrey said. “That can add up over time. Personally, I won’t pay anything to read it online.”

There are students who do see the value, and plan to sign up once the paywall takes effect.

“I think it’s fair for the type of work the Free Press does,” said Bailey Hildebrand, a Creative Communications student at RRC. “I understand what kind of work goes into reporting because I’m studying journalism. I feel it’s important for me to read the content they put out.”

Hildebrand adds she will be using one of the payment options the Winnipeg Free Press has to offer, but wishes they had a student deal. Samyn said some sort of student pricing isn’t off the table.

We are always listening to our audience. Readers not only give us feedback but also ideas for stories
said Samyn. “The student rate was one good suggestion that has been put in the hopper for consideration.”