Why is Current launching a paywall? And other questions

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Why won’t Current be free anymore?

This nonprofit news organization requires over $1 million per year to operate. We’ve been able to sustain this service to public media thanks to a generous grant from the Wyncote Foundation, advertising, and print subscriptions. But print subscriptions have waned over the years as more of our readers are choosing to get our news from our website. We need our online readers — both individuals and institutions — to pay for this content.

Why a paywall?

We spent a long time studying various options to raise revenue to sustain — and hopefully to expand — our service to you. The paywall gives us the opportunity to fund our basic news and information business. If Current is valuable to you, you will value it. It’s that simple. We all love free stuff. Most people will not pay for something unless they are compelled to do so. We can’t continue to serve public media without financial resources.

What is Wallit?

Wallit is the paywall partner we have chosen to work with. You’ll see their name on our website, and their parent company iMoneza will appear on your credit card statement. Wallit is a startup that will collect and process your payments and share the revenue. Subscribers may store additional funds in their “Wallit” to purchase stories or subscriptions on other Wallit properties.

Will non-subscribers be able to read anything on your site?

Yes. Non-paying readers can continue to receive our newsletter, see our job ads, and search our directory of services. They will be able to see our home page and category pages, and, as a matter of conscience, we will keep obituaries available to all. However, all readers will have to register on the site and will have access to just a few free articles per month before being required to subscribe. Some of our content will be available only to subscribers.

Doesn’t everyone know how to get around a paywall?

Perhaps. But the point is that if you want there to be a Current at all, you should do the right thing. And we will have the ability to revoke subscriptions if we notice patterns of abuse. Please do not share your login credentials.

Our station pays for the newspaper, so is our digital access covered?

Yes and no. Some stations get 50 copies of Current, some get 10, while others only get 1. That’s why we need to monetize our online content! Talk to your organization’s management about whether or not you (personally) will be included in the station’s subscription when the paywall goes up in a few weeks.

I have an individual print subscription. Am I covered?

Yes. You need to create a login on our website to read content, but when we put up our paywall, your digital subscription will be activated. When your subscription expires, you will be able to renew online through Wallit.

How much is a subscription?

Individuals can pay $10/month or $89 for one year. In the spirit of inclusion, we are extending a special discount to students, retirees, and members of the Association of Independents in Radio, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and the Institute for Nonprofit News. We are also extending discounts to public radio and TV stations and to regular advertisers when they purchase five or more subscriptions. We are also offering public radio and TV stations a “universal” subscription that will provide access to our content for all employees using a station email address.

Didn’t you just ask people for donations?

Yes. We think it’s important to give people in public media (especially longtime leaders and others whose subscriptions are paid for by their employers) an opportunity to make a personal contribution towards a service that has been an important part of their career development and sense of community. We appreciate our donors but do not expect donations to become a major part of our overall revenue picture.

Where does your budget go?

Current is a very lean operation with a hard-working, dedicated staff of eight full-time people – five on the editorial side and three on the business side. We have additional part-timers doing news and graphic design, The Pub podcast, and working with classified job ads. Payroll and benefits represent the bulk of our budget, followed by rent, freelance reporter fees, printing and postage to deliver the paper, and travel to public media conferences.

We will be updating this to answer any more questions you might have. Please send them to Current Executive Director Julie Drizin.