The Las Vegas Sun is joining other media companies across the country that operate their online sites as a hybrid free content/subscription content system called a “metered paywall.”
Like so many other media companies, we have made this decision to help defray the enormous costs of generating the editorial content you love to read, and which we are proud to provide to you. Providing fact-based news and information — that essential ingredient to a functioning democracy — is an expensive undertaking.
So, what exactly does this mean?
It’s fairly simple. Our award-winning website, lasvegassun.com, will continue to offer readers a lot of free content. However, there will be a cap on the number of stories you can read before being asked to subscribe. Currently, that cap is 10 stories per month, which has become the de facto standard in the industry.
Once you reach the cap, you’ll be asked to subscribe in order to read more. At all times the section fronts on our site will remain free, so that you can get a quick overview of the news of the day there without limit.
Similarly, plenty of digital content produced by our company will remain free. That includes the entertainment content from the Las Vegas Weekly as well as material produced with our fantastic content partners.
Why are we taking this step? Two main reasons.
First, producing quality editorial content is a very expensive proposition, and providing it entirely for free on the web has proven to be difficult to sustain for most newspaper companies. Ours is no exception.
Second, and the most important reason for this decision, requires a little explanation.
A major source of our newsroom funding has dried up. Years ago, the Las Vegas Sun stopped publishing our print newspaper and stopped selling newspaper advertising in competition with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In 1990, we combined our print operations (as well as our circulation) with the Review-Journal. The Review-Journal took responsibility for printing, distributing and selling advertising for the Sun and benefited mightily from this arrangement. The quid pro quo was that the Las Vegas Sun would get a small percentage of R-J profits that we could use to help fund the continuing operations of our newsroom. In short, the combination with the Review-Journal provided much of the money necessary to pay for the quality journalism the Las Vegas Sun provides.
For decades this approach benefited the R-J, and every management team there delivered a profit — a little less of a profit each year, but still healthy enough to help us offset the significant costs of our news operations.
Unfortunately, that has changed.
The current management of the Review-Journal plunged the newspaper into a loss immediately after purchasing the newspaper in 2015. To date, the Review-Journal’s management continues to run a money-losing newspaper. We hope they find a way to turn the R-J around in the face of ongoing revenue and circulation decline. (And no, purchasing a print subscription to the Sun and R-J doesn’t benefit the Sun in this current scenario.)
Our initiative with the metered paywall is an effort to replace some of that lost funding for the newsroom.
Unlike other online subscriptions across the nation, ours comes with an important pledge: 100 percent of the revenue generated will go directly to funding editorial efforts.
Also, for our online advertisers a quick note: None of this should affect your advertising performance and our delivery of promised page views. We’ll still be providing millions and millions of pages of free content to readers each month.
So why should you subscribe to the Las Vegas Sun online?
Because you will be supporting the finest journalists in the state as they continue to do what they do best: tell the story of life in Southern Nevada.
And, in turn, you will be doing your part in providing fact-based, quality journalism to readers across the valley who depend on that information for their daily family, business and political decision-making. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the unique, independent and necessary voice of the Sun because, by doing so, you will ensure that Nevada has multiple, vibrant viewpoints on the news and competing opinions about what the news means to each of us.
We’re offering two subscription levels — the basic subscription, which allows unfettered access to all our content, is $8.99 per month. The second is a premium membership for $15.99 per month. That one offers subscribers access to special quarterly newsroom events where you can meet with our editors and reporters, access to special events as well as mailed copies of Las Vegas Weekly or The Sunday to your home.
We’re sure you love reading what we produce as much as we love producing it for you. Please join us in our mission to tell the story of this wonderful place we all call home by subscribing online.
— Brian Greenspun