Pay wall ball
Credit: By Kashchey the Immortal on Picasa. Some rights reserved.
Investigative news website Exaro has taken down its paywall, with readers now able to access content without needing a digital subscription.

In a release today, the site announced it will no longer charge digital subscriptions, instead pursuing "add-on data services as its main generator of revenue".

Editor-in-chief of Exaro, Mark Watts, said the site, which launched in 2011 before later introducing a paywall, has experienced a "high level of public interest" in its content, and that it was pleased "to be able to provide readers with free access to our strong investigative journalism".
 
“And, with our development of data journalism to create editorial content and add-on data services, Exaro is at the cutting-edge of where new media is going.”

Those who had an annual subscription to Exaro will receive a refund on a pro-rata basis, and those with a pay-as-you-go account will get any outstanding credit returned to them.

Watts told Journalism.co.uk the reason for dropping the paywall was twofold, firstly in response to the "huge demand" for free access.

He explained that the site featured "incredibly important stories in the public interest and yet it wasn't easy for the public to see them."

This was coupled with the fact that the site did not have a sales team focused on selling corporate subscriptions, on which he said the "model always relied on".

"We never actually had anybody to do those sales," he said.

With a new sales recruit now on board, Watts added that "data add-on services" are considered the best approach moving forward.

These services make use of "underlying data" the team at Exaro are already tracking and collecting. Watts gave the example of Exaro's insolvency index which he explained could be valuable data to those interested in businesses making such a step.

While its investigations may appeal to a wider audience than its original focus of "business and City", he said these data add-on services will still be targeting that market.

In order to receive newsletters, comment on the site or download documents, readers still have to register with the site, the release adds.

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