Thursday morning (July 25), the Arkansas Times announced it will begin charging for access to the digital offerings on its web site. The long-time, self-described “progressive” Little Rock news source says it will shift to a paywall model beginning Aug. 1.

“Ten years ago, we subsisted entirely on advertising. But like most print publications, we’ve lost advertisers to the web, where five companies — AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo — get 64 percent of all money spent on digital advertising. While we’ve largely been more successful in selling web and print advertising than our peers, we’ll likely never make up print losses with web advertising dollars,” said Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt.

“Newspapers across the country are shriveling up and dying. Yet even in these challenging times, among our peers who publish similar weeklies and websites across the country, we spend almost double the norm on our editorial budget. Why? Because I believe Arkansas needs a strong progressive voice,” he added. “We can’t continue to produce aggressive, trenchant, independent reporting and analysis without increased reader support. A new model for funding, in which readers bear a share of our costs, is vital to the future of the Times.”

The model shift will allow for limited free access to some web news content and monthly rate plans for full access to online viewers.

“That’s why, on Aug. 1, Arkansas Times will introduce a digital membership plan. Access to our daily content — on four blogs, the Arkansas Blog, Eat Arkansas, Eye Candy and Rock Candy — will be metered. All readers will receive 10 blog views per month for free, after which only members who pay $9.99 per month will have access. Access to the rest of the site — the calendar, dining listings and what appears in the print edition of the Times — will continue to be free,” Leveritt said.

The Arkansas Times was started in 1974 and covers politics, music, dining and culture.

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