Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Would you pay to read the news online?

A few days ago, the Globe and Mail started charging its readers for full access to their online content – joining other Canadian newspapers like the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Ottawa Citizen, and National Post (only for international readers) – who have already implemented paywalls on their sites.

With the Globe, you will be allowed to read 10 free articles online each month. An initial subscription will run you just $0.99 for the first month, and $19.99 for every month afterwards for an annual cost of $239.88. This gives you unlimited access to the Globe and Mail website across multiple platforms (computer, smartphone, tablet).

Now, I love getting my news online for free, but I get why paywalls exist. And the Globe and Mail just so happens to have some amazing staff writers that I just love. But that being said, I’m not a regular reader so paying $20/month for a subscription just isn’t going to happen. I get my news from the Toronto Star because I work for them, and I read CBC every day because I like the way their website is set up, and the comments amuse me.

When I tweeted about what the paywall meant to casual readers like me, Claire Neary (Online Editor with the Globe’s business sites) was quick to respond:

She went onto tweet that the Globe would be socially porous. And of course, she’s right. All I was focused on was the 10 free articles I would be allowed to read online each month. I remember reading somewhere in a Globe article about the paywall introduction. Readers who find stories through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as search engines and blogs won’t have those stories counted against their monthly cap. And since I click through to articles from Twitter and do a lot of internet searching, I should be fine in the long run.

I went to Twitter to test out whether I could read articles that have been tweeted, and with the links I tried, they all worked. However, when I used Google to search for that Globe article about introducing the paywall (so I could link to it), two articles came up. One link let me read an article. The other link gave me a subscription pop-up. And, when I clicked on a link to a Globe article from another blog, I got the subscription pop-up again. So maybe there are still a few bugs that need to be worked out.

I also found that I couldn’t go back to read an article that was already part of my 10 freebies per month, and that was a little disappointing because sometimes my browser will crash, and I’ve been known to accidentally close an article, or save a really long article to read later.

That all being said, I think that if my favourite news sites were to one day put up a paywall, I would fork over my money. After all, I pay for books, music, and movies – so I don’t see why it should be any different when it comes to newspapers.

If your favourite newspaper started charging an online subscription, would you pay?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Krystal, it is tough to make money online but I am glad to see media making a change (many readers do not understand how much work it takes to publish on a regular basis).

  2. Tiffany says:

    I’m not loyal to any one news source so it’s hard, but if one of my favorite blogs were to start charging, I’d probably go elsewhere. People don’t want to pay for news and columns and other timely information. So while I’d be disappointed if something I used all the time for free started charging, I’d be very unlikely to pay unless it were extremely cheap or had some major benefit. $240 annually is more than a M-F home delivery subscription of the NYT by over $70, and that’s includes total online access. I’m actually more surprised that paywalls are working for some sites in general.

  3. Kate says:

    The Globe actually was our regular paper until they started putting up the paywall. I probably read 10-15 articles a day on my own, and that doesn’t count my husband’s reading habits.

    The thing is, the price is exorbitant. Like one of your commenters pointed out, that’s more than the New York Times, and much as I like the G&M, they ain’t the NYT.

    And that fact is becoming more and more obvious to me the less time I spend on the site: I did a lot of idle clicking around to news stories I probably hadn’t intended on reading, but they looked interesting; and I was a lot more forgiving of bad writing, sensationalism, or poorly-disguised advertising when it was free- now I’m annoyed that it has used one of my 10 spots.

  4. maria pater says:

    I would not pay for articles even though I understand why it’s necessary. I click through so many articles at any given time that my free ones would be gone in no time. I agree that sometimes articles have great headlines and thenthe actual article itself is lacking. I think that if they were to charge then the standard of writing and information would have to be higher.

  5. Cassie says:

    Honestly? No, I wouldn’t pay to read the newspaper online. There are so many media outlets online that I would just find another one. If it came down to it and everyone started charging for the news I’d probably just go back to reading the newspaper in solid form. It’s easier on the eyes.

  6. I don’t pay for news. I try to find free sources like Bloomberg. Or read the free articles on WSJ.

  7. Cait says:

    I recently watched the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times and now, further understanding the devastating loss in newspaper advertising, I have no judgment for newspapers who choose to request online subscriptions. While I can’t say for sure whether I’d pay for any online news source (except maybe the CBC), I won’t rule it out either. People used to pay for annual newspaper subscriptions all the time; my family did until last year. If there are one or two that you trust and/or enjoy reading most, I see no harm in paying for something that we’ve essentially always been paying for. Now, with all of that being said, $19.99/month is insane. I can’t imagine many people will be comfortable paying that to read the Globe.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Agreed, we used to subscribe to the Times Colonist in Victoria for years. But with the internet there’s so much free information available… it really is hard to justify paying $20/month for something I could find for free elsewhere. We’ll see what happens. If CBC started charging, I’d probably pay.

  8. piker says:

    Why would anyone pay 19.99 for the Globe, when you can sign up for Press Display and get all the Canadian national and local papers, plus US and international papers for $29.99? Or if you have university library access, just access their e-subscriptions for free!

  9. jay says:

    It’s tough, but I wouldn’t.

    My main news source is Google News, because when I’m interested in a topic, I want to read several diverse opinions from different sources so I load them all into tabs and scan.

  10. Adeem Zafar says:

    I love the Globe but I would not pay to access the articles.

  11. Dojo says:

    I am paying for lynda courses for instance, to learn some more stuff, even if I know there are some excellent free resources too. I wouldn’t pay to read blogs/news online though. I understand there’s work there, but I consider it’s better to monetize via ads or other revenue streams than ask for money. It’s not a huge sum, but, if many other sites would do the same, I’d end up paying a lot of money just to read the news. So I’d rather spend it for my web sites or stash it for a vacation :)

  12. Paige says:–the-star-to-launch-digital-subscription

    Your article turned out to be very timely!

    I am interested to see how the details of the online/paper subscription will work.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Me too! I wonder if all of the smaller newspapers will start to follow the lead of the big ones in Canada. It will be really interesting to see what happens over the next year, and whether online subscriptions will work in Canada.

  13. Tony says:

    Nope! With all the advertising these so-called “News”papers and TV shows throw at us, they should be paying us to view their content. I have no bleeding hard for the funnelled media networks in Canada or the US. Good luck with that $20/month subscription there Globe!

  14. Michelle says:

    I will never pay to read the news. Never, never, never, never. When there is so much free competition, it is preposterous.

  15. Michelle says:

    I don’t think I would pay. There are plenty of other sources online.

  16. DOUG says:


  17. Bill says:

    Of all the newspapers offered online the G&M comes closest to being the one I would pay to read but $20/mo is a bit rich for my blood. The one daily that I find a joke to pay anything for is the Toronto Sun. The Sun is an unabashed conservative editorial rag and not a news organization. Reading Coren and Worthington can be amusing but I’m not paying to keep their knucklehead columnists employed.

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