San Francisco Chronicle drops its paywall
The San Francisco Chronicle will publish its content on both SFgate.com and SFchronicle.com, effectively ending its paywall. The Chronicle launched its paywalled site, SFChronicle.com -- which featured premium content -- in late March.
"SFGate will continue to provide readers with a broad spectrum of content as well as all Chronicle reports and columns," Chronicle Publisher Jeffrey Johnson and President Joanne Bradford say in a statement to Eve Batey of The San Francisco Appeal (a Chronicle rep later sent Poynter the same statement). "The SFChronicle.com site will continue to provide readers with an online version that replicates a newspaper experience and reflects the changes in the news throughout the day."
"We will continue to increase the unique assets that distinguish SFChronicle.com, including design features, utility and unique offerings to subscribers that differentiates it from our other content platforms," Johnson and Bradford say in their statement.
Digital subscriptions that allow access to SFChronicle.com still appear to be available. "The only declaration we can make at this point is our newspapers must continue to experiment, measure the results and continuously iterate the experience," a Hearst spokesperson tells Poynter in an emailed statement.
"If the Chron can induce large numbers of subscribers to shell out legal tender for content readily available for free, then it will have solved the media conundrum of our age," SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi writes.
"Popular Chronicle columnists have already been making their stories available for free," Jay Barmann writes, "like Matier & Ross, who have been basically duplicating their columns on their SFGate blog, and Michael Bauer, who since April has been providing free links (via a Twitter extension on the URL) to his reviews on the Inside Scoop blog."