Would you pay to read regional news online?

Do you rely on the Internet to keep up with local news? You may soon be faced with a message like this one above.

For many readers in regional Queensland – including the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg – this will be a reality in a matter of months.

APN News & Media, the newspaper publisher behind some of the state’s best-known local papers,has just announced a metered paywall system for its regional publications.

This system (which will already be very familiar to online readers of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun) limits non-paying website visitors to a set number of articles per month – after which they must either cough up, or find their news elsewhere.

Starting mid-year, paywalls will gradually roll out to:

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• Sunshine Coast Daily

• The Gympie Times

• The Chronicle (Toowoomba)

• Daily Mercury (Mackay)

• The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton)

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• The Observer (Gladstone)

• NewsMail (Bundaberg)

• Fraser Coast Chronicle

• Warwick Daily News

• The Northern Star (Lismore & Northern Rivers)

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• The Daily Examiner (Northern NSW)

• QT – The Queensland Times

Exactly how much each online subscriptions will cost, or how much access will be granted to nonsubscribers, remains to be seen.

While Fairfax and News Corp have been aggressively promoting digital subscriptions since 2013, APN is the first regional publisher to embrace the idea; a move that’s sure to have other local newspaper owners rubbing their chins in keen interest.

In an interview with media blog MuMbrella, APN’s Clayton Cooke seemed confident that regional communities would see the value in paying for content: “they love local and they love local media”.

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“Our readers view us as the most local of all media… But like anything we will have to manage the communication delicately and well. I expect it to go relatively smoothly.”

Do you love local media enough to pay for it? Or should local news access be free for all?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!