Stile over wall
Credit: Dreamer, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kyiv Post, an English-language newspaper in the Ukraine, first launched its part-paywall in April last year, giving open access to some content while other stories required a subscription to read.

But following the outbreak of protests within Kiev against the government in November last year, termed the EuroMaidan protests, the news site decided to bring its paywall down temporarily to enable anyone to access the latest coverage at no cost.

This is a strategy which has been employed by a number of news outlets operating paywalls or metered models during significant news events for their community.

However earlier today, around two months after lowering the paywall, the news outlet issued a post online to explain why it has – as of 13 January – had to reintroduce charges for particular types of content.

"The Kyiv Post needs to operate as a business to sustain its brand of independent and trustworthy journalism since 1995," the post says, which is signed at the end by chief executive Jakub Parusinski and chief editor Brian Bonner.

"During emergency or decisive moments in the crisis, we will continue to drop the paywall on stories and make this content available for free."

But, as Bonner told, the news outlet "couldn't keep giving away the coverage forever".

Today's post outlined which content would be placed behind the paywall, and which would remain freely accessible.

Subscription is now required to access "exclusive staff-written stories and investigations", for example, as well as "news services, such as Interfax-Ukraine, for which the Kyiv Post pays a subscription fee and hires people to update regularly".

On the other hand, "live updates on breaking news events", among other content, will remain open.

The Kyiv Post also announced plans to raise the cost of a digital subscription from its current annual rate of $36 to $50, effective next month.

"In an ideal world, the Kyiv Post would like to provide all news coverage for free," the post continued. "But the financial realities in the news business are that print advertising is a dwindling source of revenue. This is true for most newspapers worldwide. It's also true for the Kyiv Post.

"Our newspaper is working hard to develop other forms of revenue to offset the decline in print advertising. These include hosting conferences, roundtables, providing native English-language speakers for editing services and publishing special supplements.

"We also are aggressively seeking out advertisers to sponsor content and themed supplements, such as our upcoming Lawyers' Quarterly."

But returning to the need to raise the price of digital subscription, Parusinski and Bonner add that they "hope that readers will understand our financial need to take such a step and will find that $4.16 a month is affordable".

"Online subscriptions are becoming increasingly more important for our financial survival as a news organisation," they said in the post.

"Even in the best of times, the Kyiv Post is a small business that occasionally turns a small profit in some months while in other months requires subsidies or grants when we can secure them."

Since launching digital subscriptions the site has "processed more than 1,000 payments", the post adds, and Bonner told "now that [people are paying], we hope they will pay $50 a year, which if you compare with anyone else, is still a bargain."

The news site will also call on its community "to donate to our operations" within the website itself.

"All profits are reinvested in the newspaper's operations", the post added.

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