San Francisco Chronicle drops its paywall

The San Francisco Appeal | SF Weekly | SFist

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.”

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  • http://www.sportpila.com/ John A Mclean

    Web availability tends to cause. The idea that a big site is inexpensive to run is incorrect – they are very expensive. The hope was that a paywall would add revenue without losing many clicks. That would also let the paper charge more for ads because “the audience” was now requalified as being “very interested” to http://www.sportpila.com be on site and thus likely to be more valuable for advertisers. The New York Times paywall appears to be performing in such a manner. Most others? The jury is still out. Some papers have a paywall and a permissive number of free articles per month, some – like the Chicago dailies – are pretty tight.

  • RLABruce

    I agree no one is forcing you to buy online news. But OBAMACARE requires that you buy a product. And the government subsidizes and gives tax breaks for whatever they want to promote, such as raising children or buying a home. Other government promotions aren’t nearly that voluntary, such as carbon taxes to promote the fraud of man-made global warming–er, climate change. My point is that coercion and mandates are the Libs’ typical tactic and free-market capitalism is the Conservative way.

  • AdamRadzik22

    Except…nobody is forcing anyone to buy anything. It is a price set on a good or service that someone can choose to buy if they desire, nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to do with liberalism.

  • RLABruce

    The free market did speak. It says it doesn’t like Lib news sources, be they print media or internet-based.

  • RLABruce

    The concept of profit is conservative. The concept of forcing consumers to buy a product they didn’t want even if it was free is pure Liberalism.

  • RLABruce

    All leftists should be committed. It would solve so many problems….

  • dkn1234

    I was thinking that they might have made it if they had accepted food stamps, but then duh, I realized the supporters of the left for the most part can’t read.

  • Asok Asus

    Paywall up, paywall down. Paywall up, paywall down. These are just more convulsions of the dying newspaper industry.

    The Internet comet crashed to earth in 1998 and killed the newspaper dinosaurs, who existed solely because they could create monopoly conditions for local advertising. The newspapers were killed by the digital revolution with the formation of craigslist, ebay, google, and amazon all around 1998, thus destroying the local advertising monopolies, but their deaths have taken over a decade to register with their pea-sized brains as their mammoth bodies thrashed about.

    Going digital ten years too late means that newspapers have merely become little more than a few additional websites competing with a billion existing web sites for limited advertising dollars. And even worse for the dying papers, ad pages no long bring in thousands of dollars per page, but instead bring in thousandths of a cent per page, so there’s no chance whatsoever of digital ad revenues ever equaling newspaper publishing ad revenues.

    Digital subscriptions, also known as paywalls, never had a chance of working either. Most of what’s behind a paywall is freely available elsewhere, and paywalls render any ads behind the paywalls valueless, meaning no one in their right mind is going to pay for an ad behind a paywall.

    It is true that the loss of news gathering by newspapers is collateral damage from the digital revolution. However, news was never anything more than the hook to get consumers to buy and read the newspaper ads, and for the most part had been turned into little more than leftest propaganda anyway, so the value of the “loss” is highly debatable.

    At any rate, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch, since most U.S. newspapers have been promoting the overthrow of all that is good and unique about the U.S. for at least 70 years. At least buggy whip makers never tried to destroy the U.S.

  • texasgoat

    I would subscribe to digital editions of newspapers if they would bundle a bunch of papers for one price. I’m a conservative that enjoys the LA Times, but I would not pay the subscription.

  • Santiago Alemedia

    This is wonderful news. More viewers and increased audience will justify higher advertising rates.

  • snuffy18

    Dropping the paywall was a tacit recognition of the true value of the premium content….

  • BigIronRam

    Don’t be embarrassed, it didn’t diminish your point. Empty suits are hard to differentiate.

    Goebbels would have been proud of Kerry.

  • Penny

    This is an OMG embarrassment! Thank you for the correction; yesterday’s Drudge included algore’s multimillion-dollar profit in Apple, and nearby was johnjawkerry’s frustration with the Internet. You’re right about their both being empty suits, however (and aren’t there just a whole bunch of empty heads wearing empty suits in this corrupt administration)!!!???!!!

  • BigIronRam

    That was John Kerry. Not much difference though, both empty suits.

  • Stacey g

    the pay wall has been Shattered!

  • Stacey g

    journalists think they are doing God’s work and don’t need to get into profit and loss and other irritating details.

  • Stacey g

    Brilliant!

  • AdamRadzik22

    I was directly replying to the assertion that paywalls are classic liberalism. The Boston Globe and WashPo was very liberal leaning papers. However, the comment about paywalls being liberal is ridiculous.

  • Kat Kat

    …so you think the Washington Post and Boston Globe are conservative newspapers? That is news to many!!

  • bill

    We need conservative and truthful newspapers. They will sell.

  • AdamRadzik22

    This is one of the more ridiculous comments I’ve read. Experimenting with pricing of digital articles is “liberalism”? Does that just apply to digital content, or are physical newspapers and magazines also all examples of liberalism? I’m curious.

  • SenatorKang

    He wasn’t talking about clicks, but page views. 1.5 million page views vs. 550k page views. If you want to redefine the terms he was using, that’s up to you, but all of the rest of us understand that an ad on a page that receives 1.5 million pageviews, verses an ad on a page that receives 550k pageviews… the ad that appears on the 1.5m page is going to be charged a higher rate, every time… unless the ad department is run by morons! As far as the “genius” comment, as he used it, that was about the technical failures of a badly designed paywall. You spend a lot of time talking down to people, mostly for things that they did not even say. Does it help you feel better?

  • beautifulnrich1

    I hate to think what is considered “premium content” in a newspaper that has anything to report from San Fran.

    Yuck !!

  • Sporto100

    Ill be damned if I am going to pay to see all the pop up ads and crap advertisments.

  • 908Savage

    The land of girlymen and commie scum.

  • Monty Capuletti

    I thought that paper was gone years ago…

  • Dusty Thompson

    The ONLY way I would read the trash spewing out of this Libidiot RAG, free or not is when SF votes out Nazi Piglosi and Franken Feinstein…

  • Templewind

    Yes, it really upsets me when a liberal rag can’t make it’s readers pay for their own misery….(sarc/off) Gore, may your plan to do similarly to the American Taxpayer have the same outcome, or worse!

  • AZSchumi

    Sanctuary city deserves sanctuary news, eh?

  • donfitness

    Dude, this is the comment section. Not the book writing section.

  • thult

    If you go to a local restaurant and get a lousy meal, do you go back? If you see a lousy movie, do you recommend it to your friends? If you go to an event and regularly get offended, do you keep going back? If you invest in a stock that tanks, do you buy more? Do you generally listen to people who only tell you half-truths or who routinely outright LIE to you?

    Could it be the CONTENT? NAAAAAAHHHH. We like to take a sharp stick in the eye!

  • BJBarr5

    You have way too much time on your hands “Mr. Smith” (ROFL) … It is no more complicated than this. To view the materials offered I (and anyone else) would have to pay a fee. I could care less who actually gets the money. The only certainty is I would no longer have it.

  • Cudjoekeyguy

    Does one really and practically receive true value for premium information? Especically, when in today’s internet world, anyone can find what they’re searching for?

  • Alky

    “our newspapers must continue to experiment, measure the results and continuously iterate the experience,”
    Maybe if you didn’t lean so far left people could take you seriously!

  • http://www.examiner.com/republican-in-orlando/catherine-forester CATHERINE

    AMEN AMEN AMEN, OBAMA’S DEPRESSION IS ALMOST HERE, 2008 WAS JUST A SMALL BLIP

    OBAMA HUSSEIN HAS SPENT 50 TRILLION DOLLARS SINCE THEN AND UNEMPLOYED 40 MILLION

    WE ARE A HECK OF A LOT MORE INTO A FULL BLOWN DEPRESSION
    AND THEN EVERYTHING GETS RESET

    THE HARD WAY

  • http://www.examiner.com/republican-in-orlando/catherine-forester CATHERINE

    THE POST OFFICE IS DEAD BECAUSE WE PAY THE PEOPLE SITTING HOME ON THEIR BUTTS ———————–FOR LIFE

    IT IS A SCHEME……………NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY KIND OF MANAGEMENT

    WE CAN’T PAY FOR THE WORKERS IN OUR FACE…………………….AND ALL THE RETIREES SITTING HOME ON THEIR BUTTS——WITH ANY HIGH PRICE AND SAVE OURSELVES

    AND SADLY THOSE PROMISES MADE BY THOSE DEMOCRATS ARE BANKRUPT AND THOSE PENSION CHECK WILL ONLY BE TEN CENTS ON THE DOLLAR

    START MAKING PLANS NOW………………..THE TRUTH IS IN YOUR FACES

  • http://www.examiner.com/republican-in-orlando/catherine-forester CATHERINE

    you boys COULD BE RICH AND WE WOULD PAY ——–
    -IF YOU WOULD LAY DOWN THE IDIOT LIBTURD THEOLOGY THAT YOU CONTINUE TO USE TO DESTROY AMERICA…………………..
    YOUR OBAMA HUSSEIN THAT YOU HITLER MEDIA PROTECT………………..FIRES 50,000 AMERICANS EVERY DAY
    EVERYDAY FOR 4 YEARS………………………
    40 MILLION JOBS GONE AND YOU WON’T REPORT IT
    LOSING YOUR JOB IS WHAT CREATES TENS OF MILLIONS OF FORECLOSURES
    AND YOU WON’T REPORT IT
    WHILE YOU BOYS TELL US ‘THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE IN OBAMANATION’
    WE HAVE TO DRIVE BY OBAMAVILLE HOMELESS CAMPS IN EVERY STATE
    WE HAVE TO BURY OUR DEAD SOLDIERS THAT YOU DON’T COUNT (ONLY DEAD SOLDIERS COUNT IF A REPUBLICAN IS PRESIDENT…………..BUSH KILLED 2-3 A WEEK
    OBAMA KILLS 20-30 A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – AMERICANS – OF COURSE THE DEATH TOTAL IS THAT HIGH ———————-WHY DO YOU THINK THE MEDIA QUIT REPORTING THE DEAD??? – (AP – DEC 2010)
    NOPE THE CONTENT IS WHY NEWSWEEK, GLOBE AND THE POST DIED LARGE DEATHS LAST WEEK
    AS AMERICA BURNS TO THE GROUND AND OUR PRESIDENT FINANCES THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AND AL-QUAIDA AND
    OBAMA LISTENS TO EVERY WORD WE SPEAK OR WRITE
    OUR LIBTURD MEDIA TELLS US HOW OBAMA HAS SAVED US
    BUT MEDIA, THE BODIES ARE PILING UP OUT HERE

  • randy brown

    newpapers have basically killed themselves just like television news is dying, they no longer represent the people, they have for the most part liberal agendas that are destroying the united states. I say let the medium die , no one cares

  • John Smith

    and you are here because?

  • Penny

    Yes, it was on Drudge yesterday. I did take some liberty (and fun) in calling it “his Internet,” of course.

  • ELCID

    The biggest cost a Newspaper has is: print and paper.
    The Internet eliminates that cost.
    How in the world these stupid newspapers can’t figure out a way to present their advertisers, just like they do in the Print Newspapers, and make a solid profit is stunning.
    All they have to do is post an exact image copy of the daily news, with ads, and etc.
    Then the reader would have to see those ads when they read the newspaper in print, laptop, Ipad, anything else. Mostly, just pure advertising profits.

  • John Smith

    Page views cost money – they don’t earn money. It’s true that 1.5 million clicks might lead to higher ad rates, but I’d rather sell into an environment of half-a-million subscribers than 1.5 million drive-bys. Advertisers are learning to appreciate quality over quantity, and people who spend money for content are assumed – seems reasonable to me – to trend toward higher education, greater civic focus, and other characteristics which relate to higher income. That’s a great audience – and a great market. I agree that shutting down opposing views – as the comment police on many sites tend to do – is a mistake, but I’ve seen nothing yet that has measured the pros and cons of running a newspaper site strongly aimed at one specific audience as opposed to doing something vanilla that doesn’t really please anyone. Biased websites seem to make the best profits because they attract a dedicated following – such “connections” create brand loyalty while being “balanced” (which made way more sense in a monopoly environment than it does today) gives no one a reason to be very loyal. Don’t assume that publishers don’t care about money – they go out of business just like any other private company. But don’t confuse lower click rates with a poor business decision. On that your are demonstrably incorrect or in your terms, a true genius.

  • theotherRJH

    HA! Everyone knew that wasn’t going to last. The Columbus Crapspatch, has a paywall as well. Hard to believe those idiots charge ON TOP OF a home delivery subscription. Once they turned on the paywall, comments on that site dropped to nothing except for the communist liberals who paid for paywall access. That entire paper is a joke anyway. I buy a Sunday edition for coupons…the main paper never reaches the house. I’d rather take $20 and burn it every month than give it to the Crapspatch.

  • JM40

    The revolution is all that matters … spread the word … Viva La Revolution
    All they need is some bread, cheap wine and their Che T-shirts

  • Dutra

    Too late dudes. The damage has already been done.

  • zonable

    San Francisco…..you’re irrelevant.

  • John Smith

    I didn’t catch that from Al, but it certainly sounds like one of his utterances.

  • John Smith

    Why inexplicable?

  • John Smith

    galocke – private companies raise prices every day to make up for either lowered sales or inadequate market knowledge. The idea that lowering prices is always a Good Thing has been debunked in recent years – though raising them too high is also damaging. Consider soft drinks. Once they hit less than $3 per 12 pack it’s hard to make anything in the business. At $5 the margins are pretty comfortable. You can make a ton more money selling many fewer $5 packages than you can lots of $3 packages – within a range of conditions – because your margin on the $5 packs is healthy and on the $3 packs it’s not. There’s an old joke about how GM was selling cars for less than it cost to build them but was going to make it up on volume. It doesn’t work. Your Postal Service argument is deficient in a couple of areas – one being that the Postal Service has a baseline overhead caused not by market demand but by the requirement of universal service. Remove the universal service provision – only delivering mail where it makes a profit – and you have (a) a profitable Postal Service and (b) a political firestorm and significant economic damage. There’s no private analogy to that situation. I share your opinion that people in government tend to spend money more recklessly than those in the private sector (but that’s far from being something on which government has a monopoly – Oprah looking at a 38K purse suggests that private-sector spending can be pretty ghastly too), but it’s worthwhile to use factual example of such profligate spending rather than invent them. I’m also not sure how a paywall is connected to government spending, but I suppose it’s possible. I’ll close by saying Oprah can spend her money anyway she wants. It’s hers and she earned it. Maybe such purchases will help delay the onset of “bitter old person syndrome” that she is so sadly developing.

  • Pupioso

    I don’t subscribe to any papers and i don’t do paywalls. Not going to fork over cash to read their diatribe garbage.

  • John Smith

    Your analysis of paywalls is flawed – actually it could have been written by a liberal because it ignores the market and does so in a condescending manner. Paywalls are not about improving circulation (online or in print) they were about bringing in money. Free clicks in an ad-supported site do not normally bring in enough to make a profit and/or recover the revenue losses free Web availability tends to cause. The idea that a big site is inexpensive to run is incorrect – they are very expensive. The hope was that a paywall would add revenue without losing many clicks. That would also let the paper charge more for ads because “the audience” was now requalified as being “very interested” to be on site and thus likely to be more valuable for advertisers. The New York Times paywall appears to be performing in such a manner. Most others? The jury is still out. Some papers have a paywall and a permissive number of free articles per month, some – like the Chicago dailies – are pretty tight. Others – the Dallas Morning News and Wall Street Journal for example – have a mix of free and “premium” articles. People are experimenting, but no one categorized their paywall as a way to bounce circulation (clicks). A major problem with paywalls is that the only thing a paper can sell that has any chance of being “unique” is local coverage. The international stuff is available on more sites than you can count. Sports? There’s ESPN, Fox, CNNSI, and a half-dozen other national sites. The nationals may not give you the detailed insight available from a local beat writer, but such precision may not be enough to make someone purchase a Web subscription. It’s probably cheaper just to buy the Monday paper to get the big scoop on the 49′ers. National and political news is available from a waterfall of outlets, and even a lot of local San Francisco political stuff – because of the moronic nature of so much of it – makes national outlets looking for another story about those idiots in San Fran. None of these difficulties have anything to do with charging for something that’s free as a way to increase the paper’s reach. I share – often – a concern that liberals don’t understand the workings of an economy. I claim – and you seem to in your comment – some understanding of the subject. It’s not clear that your comment supports the idea that you have such knowledge.

  • Duke_Sweden

    I’m not the spelling police by any stretch but “loose”, “looser” and “amature” drive me nuts!!!

  • dontcare4uatall

    The FREE MARKET SPOKE!

  • docwhocuts

    pay to read the communist manifesto every day?
    don’t think so.

  • Paolo Moleman

    Silicon Valley/San Fran = allies of the O surveillance state.

  • byeGeorge

    The function of socialism is to raise suffering to a higher level…

  • ZigZ

    Can not remember the last time I read a New York Times Article, either.

  • IRS hitlist

    The Charlotte Observer put up a paywall, but it only affects internet explorer users. All other web browsers easily block cookies and are unaffected. True geniuses at work there. Oh, and then they went to only facebook comments, and only those people that agree with their far let slant. Page views dropped from 1.5 million a month to 550 thousand, I’m sure their advertisers are thrilled. But what is money and profit to committed leftists?

  • Ron Knocky

    Why would I pay to read your trash when I wouldn’t read it for free?

  • Luxomni

    Each time the gov’t loses customers or quantity of sales, it redivides the amount they need and the price goes up. As this continues, that last stamp will cost a billion dollars.

  • Luxomni

    Too late. Broke the habit. There are other sources.

  • Twoiron

    TT28,

    Chas is a real looser. (So is Obama.)

  • Tomtom28

    Lose! Not loose.

  • jpaq68

    Why would I pay good money to read something that is written on a 4th grade reading level?

  • robertg222

    Even for free it’s not worth reading.

  • steve5150

    Who would pay for liberal media talking points that are available for free?
    For that matter who would want them for free?

  • Chas

    And they will still loose readers. Could it be the content?

  • Waiting4

    “corporate chains” are not the cause of the demise of newspapers …. you need to get you some fair and honest learning!

  • Waiting4

    It’s the inexplicable result of a mindset that confuses FACT with desired result!

  • Penny

    But . . . but . . . but that poor-mouthing carbon-rich hypocrite Al Gore was only yesterday bemoaning the Internet, claiming that his invention is the primary cause of political dissension because too many people can access its “distortions.”

    Yep! The hypocrisy and stupidity of the leftists know no bounds. I say bring out a modern-day pied piper to herd them all into SanFran, then build an impenetrable fence to keep them there to wallow in the slimy cesspool of their own making.

  • merdenoire

    With the heavy censoring, the Comical is lucky it has anyone logging in at all!

  • nobodyspecial1958

    I’m shocked they can get people to read it for free, to quote the Stones, “can’t give it away on 7th avenue”. Without a link to Drudge, who would know, even with a link to Drudge, who would care ? :)

  • thebronze

    Pay Wall: FAIL!!!!

  • powell789

    good riddance SF Chron, I canceled my subscription a decade ago, when I got fed up with its one-sided liberal bias.

  • rick charles

    Who cares? Just another rag to go down in flames.

  • swingvote25

    having worked in newspapers, I’ve seen up close how utterly biased and deceitful the media can be. It’s the only business where the customer is always wrong. Great business model there, alienate HALF of your customers by pushing a liberal agenda. brilliant. let em die

  • FFlintstone

    I don’t care when they do it in the private sector with their own money. It’s when they start using the power of the government or our tax dollars that it becomes a problem.

  • gildersleeve

    That liberal rag will be lucky to survive. With all the things going on in Washington, they choose to publish the talking points of the Democrap party. There are no more journalists in the news business. THey are a branch of the Democrap party and need to have that branch trimmed and cut loose. Obama has been working outside the constitution for 5 years now and nothing from the left. Soon our freedoms will be a subject taught in school under old history.

  • suibneg

    the point that is always missing of course is that people really don’t like to pay for swill.

  • http://smallthoughtsfromasmallmind.wordpress.com/ Charles Kirtley

    Someday the rest of the geniuses and their paywalls will realize there is unlimited free content on the internet. Most people won’t pay to read their propaganda.

  • Exlied_off_the_Path

    If I like the news source and they produce the information for everyone for free, I do not mind paying them to keep it going. All they have to do is say if you feel like supporting us, and can afford $0.25 a day, please donate to the business here. Even $5 a donation a month can help bring the news to the world.

    Let the free markets sourt it out.

  • Lee Bishop

    Duh!

  • galocke

    It’s the government’s way with things. If something isn’t selling enough or attracting enough customers, such as the post office, simply raise the price. If the private sector tried that, the bankruptcy lawyers would be having a field-day.

  • mikekelley10

    Here’s a good one from Small Dead Animals. A small Canadian newspaper is listed for sale at online classified site kijiji.ca. Even newspaper people know that online free classifieds are better than their own:

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/deep-impact-23.html

  • J_Biggs

    Paywalls are very easy to bypass.

  • JM40

    I hope it bankrupts the Red Star.

  • jnsesq

    “We will this…” and “We will that…” and blah, blah, blah…

    Not even enough Marxists in Havanacisco to sustain this propaganda arm of a failed ideology.

  • BJBarr5

    The idea of “pay walls” is classic liberalism as when Boston Globe and Washington Post also implemented them. Liberals feel the way to get people to consume more of a product they don’t want for free is to raise the price!

  • yoshimoto

    here’s a solution – make the paper non-profit and hold fund raisers like the United Way does…the corporate chains killed the newspapers and this is the only way to bring them back.

  • byeGeorge

    “I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he cannot have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.”….

  • FifeAndDrum

    It is invalid to assume that ANYONE in San Francisco actually knows anything.

    An electorate that can return Nancy Pelosi to Congress every election since 1987 obviously has some serious problems.

  • samantha657

    just as Christine implied I
    am shocked that some one able to get paid $4940 in four weeks on the
    internet. did you see this webpage w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Merzing

    The Toronto Star, yesterday, put one up.

    Think the Chronicle knows something the Canadians don’t?,

  • SocraticGadfly

    Were I running the Chron, next time I needed to swing a layoff ax, I
    know who’d go first: Editorial staffers deliberately undercutting the
    paywall, even if it’s kind of poorly designed