FROM THE NEWSROOM: 6 questions and answers about the Missourian's membership model

Saturday, November 23, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:18 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Welcome to From the Newsroom, the section dedicated to answering your questions about the Missourian. Our goal is to be transparent about our practices and processes and to invite our readers behind the scenes of what we do. Suggest topics you’d like to see explained by contacting Joy Mayer at or 882-8182.

UPDATE: The Missourian's paid membership model went through significant changes after this article was published. Read here about how we've implemented Google Surveys.

The Missourian instituted a membership model for access to its digital content, online and on mobile/tablet devices, in the fall of 2012. Here are answers to six questions about how that model works.

1. What’s a membership model?

A membership model is a system that invites readers to have a stake in the Missourian's success by making an investment in its journalism. The model grants access to certain content on its website to paid members only. (Read about why we use the term membership here.) In other newsrooms, paywalls or subscription models limit what nonsubscribers can see to only a certain number of articles per month or to select sections of a website. The Missourian's model works differently.

2. What type of model does the Missourian’s website use and how much do members pay?

The Missourian’s website has a unique membership model. Instead of a metered model that allows nonmembers to view a certain number of articles per month (such as those at the New York Times or the Columbia Daily Tribune), the Missourian's membership model is time-based. All readers can access any article for the first 24 hours after its publication. After 24 hours, the article is archived and can be viewed only by members who have paid the membership fee.

For $5.95 per month, members receive unlimited access to and all Missourian smartphone and tablet apps. At $7.95 per month, members receive digital access, Missourian apps and home delivery. During special promotions or occasional news events, a 99-cent one-day pass is also offered.

3. Why should I care?

While charging for content is hardly a new concept, the Missourian's membership model is the first of its kind.

In 2012, Missourian editors worked with Guy Tasaka, a paid content strategy expert, and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute to create a pay model that corresponds with the nontraditional nature of the Missourian.

“We did this hoping to keep our page view numbers up, because the people who are coming to our website every day will still be able to access all that daily information, but people who want to dig a little deeper and want to read stories that are older will then have to pay a premium for that content," said the Missourian's Bryan Chester in an RJI news release.

The 24-hour membership model is an ongoing experiment for the Missourian but also for the journalism industry as a whole.

"The Missourian’s change to a pay model is consistent with industry trends; its method, with everything free for the first 24 hours of publication, is experimental and reflects a core mission of this newspaper to test innovative practices for the news industry," said Missourian Executive Editor Tom Warhover in a Dear Reader column.

4. What time are stories typically published?

Stories can be published at any time on any day of the week. Generally, stories are published as soon as they have gone through the editing process. In coordination with the Missourian's news cycle, several articles are published at 6 a.m. as a daily morning news update. 

5. Are there any stories that I can read for free at any time?

If you aren’t a member of the Columbia Missourian’s website (or you aren’t logged into your account), there are still some sections of the website you can view at any time. These free sections are: From Readers, Obituaries (family, Missourian and Life Stories), Classifieds, Dear Reader and From the Newsroom.

6. Do members receive any additional benefits on the Missourian’s website besides access to news content?

Yes, in addition to access to the Missourian’s online archives, members receive continuous access to special sections, e-books and editor’s picks located in the Members Only section. Members also have access to the suite of Digital Missourian apps on the iPhone or Android phone, and on the iPad, Android tablet and Kindle Fire.

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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Robert Sisson January 14, 2014 | 6:16 p.m.

At this time, I'm ok with the system.

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