Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Chicago Tribune Web Site Moving to Registration

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Chicago Tribune Web Site Moving to Registration

Article excerpt

Stone (martstone@aol.com) is a new media professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago and a frequent contributor to E&P.

Most content still free, but online subscriptions will be considered for comics, etc.

The Tribune Co. is about to make a bold move against the unfettered access to news on the Internet by requiring registration on its flagship Web site. Only a handful of news sites on the Internet currently require registration. including The New York Times on the Web. The Times and a few other sites require users to fill out online registration forms before gaining access to news. While these sites don't charge for their content, they use the registration information for marketing purposes. Even fewer general interest news sites have had much success in charging readers for online subscriptions, with The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition being the one notable exception.

Tribune executives are planning to launch the registration process for the Chicago Tribune's Web site (http://www.chicagotirbune.com) some time this year. The general news that has always been available on Chicago Tribune Internet Edition will still be available to everyone, but those who voluntarily choose to register will receive access to additional news and features currently not on the site, The paper hopes to gain valuable demographic information about registered readers for marketing and editorial purposes. Meanwhile, the subscription idea is under consideration, but there are no immediate plans to implement a fee, executives say.

Owen Youngman, director of interactive media for the Chicago Tribune, says the company long ago set aside certain premium or sought-after content that could be leveraged in the future for an equitable trade with users. "We won't make registration mandatory, but for the added value features -- that's the exchange." Youngman says. That trade will be the exchange of unspecified demographic information from users for access to content like comics, crosswords, and news content that goes beyond the day's printed Chicago Tribune. Comics and crossword puzzles have not yet been made available online. "We've always held back on a certain level of content for registration," he says.

Some experts say consumers will balk at being forced to fill out a registration form in order to get news content readily available elsewhere on the Web. …

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