January 14, 2016 Last Updated 9:51 pm

The Nation launches metered paywall, looks to add digital subscribers, and today endorsed a candidate – Bernie Sanders

The paywall will allow readers to access six stories a month for free, then ask them to sign up for a digital subscription at $9.50 for six months

The Nation this week announced that it had launched a metered paywall for its website, one of many magazines and newspapers to have chosen to go this route. The weekly magazine, founded just months after the end of the Civil War, also launched a redesigned website just last summer.

TheNation-web-screen-660“Unlike most magazines that rely on advertising to pay their bills, The Nation depends upon the support of our readers and the generosity of our donors,” Richard Kim, executive editor of The Nation. “But starting on January 11, 2016, we’re changing to a different model of accessing all of our content online. We think this new metered system will better allow people to read and share our most important work during critical moments (after all, we’re working to help build a movement here), while also asking our regular readers to chip in to support our journalism.”

The way the metered paywall is structured is that readers will be able to access six articles in a 30-day period of time. After the first three stories are accessed readers get asked to sign up for one of the magazine’s newsletters. After six free reads in 30 days, web readies are asked to subscribe at an introductory rate of $9.50 for six months of unlimited digital access.

Current print and digital subscribers can log into their accounts to gain unlimited access for no additional cost.

John Cary, the magazine’s Digital Director, told TNM that the staff built the paywall themselves, in-house, with the assistance of a third-party developer, DiaSpark.

“A year ago we were toying with the idea of a paywall,” Cary said. “We shelved the idea until we launched the new CMS on July 3rd of 2015.”

At that time the magazine relaunched its redesigned website it from Drupal to WordPress. Then they readdressed the idea of a metered paywall.

“We looked at a number of vendors as we were going through this and decided to build it ourselves, only because the cost of doing this was not that prohibitive for us, and we had good technology partners.”

On Monday, the paywall went live.

“We have not seen any decrease in traffic – granted it has only been three days,” Cary said. “I’m very paranoid about that, we are really keeping a close eye on that. So far, we have not had any push back from people, the only issues have been readers who have forgotten their passwords.”

Cary also said that the magazine has so far seen “a huge increase in subscriptions” (though, again, it’s only been three days).

Cary has been at The Nation in New York since 2012, after previously being Online Director at Time Out Chicago. Prior to that, Cary was in charge of digital business development at the Chicago Sun-Times News Group. He was first hired by the Sun-Times as chief photographer in 1990.

“I got into the Internet in the early ’90s looking at ways of transmitting images back from remote locations quicker instead of the old drum transmitter,” Cary told TNM.

Election years are always busy times for The Nation magazine. The liberal magazine’s circulation always bounces around, depending on who is in the White House, and whether the Democrats are in power or in the opposition. So, 2016 could be a banner year for the political journal.

TheNation-cover-300The Bush years were particularly good, with the magazine hitting a circulation high of 186,528 in its December 2006 audit statement. Back then, the magazine only claimed 277 digital subscribers. With their last publisher’s statement this has climbed to nearly 27K – though total circulation, with a Democrat in the White House, has fallen to just under 110K.

But this election cycle is heating up, with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary just weeks away, so the magazine is hard at work, as editor Kim reminded readers when explaining why the magazine felt it needed to launch a metered paywall for its website:

“But doing journalism of this quality is expensive,” Kim said. “In the past year, we’ve sent writers to the streets of Athens to report on the financial crisis; to the factories of Iowa to talk to working-class voters; and to the borders of Europe to document an unprecedented refugee crisis. We’ve interviewed presidential candidates, explored what’s at stake in the next election, investigated broken healthcare systems, and exposed the cruelty of the prison-industrial complex. We’re proud that we were among the first media companies to pay our interns a living wage, and that we just signed a groundbreaking contract with the union that represents our staff.”

As mentioned above, US citizens will soon start making their choices for who they want in the White House come January 2017. Local newspapers, such as the New Hampshire Union-Leader (formerly known in previous election cycles as the Manchester Union-Leader) have already made their endorsements (they endorsed Gov. Chris Christie).

Today, The Nation went with, no surprise, Bernie Sanders:

“This magazine rarely makes endorsements in the Democratic primary (we’ve done so only twice: for Jesse Jackson in 1988, and for Barack Obama in 2008). We do so now impelled by the awareness that our rigged system works for the few and not for the many. Americans are waking up to this reality, and they are demanding change.”

The magazine complimented Hillary Clinton, saying that she “is a candidate who combines unmatched experience with intelligence, grit, and strength,” and that if Clinton were nominated “she would be far more preferable to any of the extremists running for the GOP nomination (and so would former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley).”

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