Digital long-form publisher Matter has decided to stop charging for its content. Until now, it cost $0.99 to read an article online or download it to an e-reading device.
The publisher, which was established by Bobbie Johnson and Jim Giles, announced a number of developments yesterday, as it reached the one-year mark, including the decision to open up its content.
Matter's journey began with a Kickstarter campaign in February 2012, which sought crowdfunding to help establish an online platform to facilitate the creation and publishing of "independent, global, in-depth reporting about science and technology".
Despite setting out with a target of $50,000, the project secured $140,000 by the end of the campaign, and fully launched in November 2012, offering content both online and as downloadable e-books, with a per-article charge of $0.99.
Five months later Matter announced it had been bought by Medium, a digital publishing platform which itself only launched in August last year.
And in this week's announcement, Matter informed its readers that it will be shutting its original website where, until now, it had continued to share its content. Now it is "moving all our content over" to Medium.
And, significantly, it is abandoning its original paid-content model. "Everything we publish will now be free to read, and we’ll be rolling out a new membership scheme so that we can find ways to reward the brilliant writers and editors we work with. We’ll have much more to say on that, and why we think it’s the best way forward for us, in the new year."
In an additional post the publisher adds that this new approach will make it "easier than ever to read the stories we craft, and to share the ones that are important to you".
On the editorial side, the main announcement post adds that long-form will continue to take centre-stage.
"We’re stepping up from our previous story-a-month approach, and moving to more regular, hard-hitting long-form features.
"Will more output mean lower quality? We promise you that it absolutely will not. One of our core goals for the next year is to make Matter's pieces – which are already competing with some of the best out there – better and better."
Commenting on the acquisition in an interview with Journalism.co.uk in August, Jason Stirman, head of people operations and product designer at Medium, said the publishing platform had been "struck" by Matter's innovation.
He also referred to Matter's testing of a paid-content model at the time. "We just really appreciated the fact they were experimenting with that", he said.
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