Home > NewsRelease > Slate Launches Metered Paywall to Get More Members to Join Slate Plus
Slate Launches Metered Paywall to Get More Members to Join Slate Plus
Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Boston , MA
Friday, March 27, 2020


On Wednesday, digital media site Slate Magazine announced it was launching a metered paywall to get more readers to join Slate Plus, a membership program the company started six years ago. The membership program is only $35 for a reader’s first year, following a two-week free trial. The funding is necessary to help Slate diversify its revenue sources and to support the site’s journalism wok. The paywall is a metered paywall, but Slate did not specify how many articles a non-member can read before hitting the paywall.

Here is an excerpt from editor JaredHohlt’s March 25 announcement:

“Becoming a Slate Plus member is the absolute best way toback the journalism we do. And the benefits are clear: not only all the articlesyou want to read (with a cleaner reading experience) but also ad-free podcastsand bonus show content.

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Becoming a member is also the best way to help us shape thatjournalism. We get to learn more about what you’d like to see more (and less)of, and you get to know us better, too: through special events andreader-feedback sessions and the like. A publication that relies more fully onits subscribers is a publication that serves them better. And Slate has alwayswanted to be the sort of place that’s in a kind of perpetual conversation withits audience.

Up till now, Slate has provided almost all of its writtenwork for free. But going forward, we think the way we will truly thrive is bycontinuing to diversify our revenue—by asking readers like you to support usmore directly. In the coming months, some of our most engaged visitors will beprompted to join Slate Plus in order to keep reading articles on the site,”wrote Hohlt.

Slate launches metered paywall to encourage readers to become Slate Plus membes.
Image courtesy of Slate

Hohlt clarified that Slate will make all of its coronavirus-relatedcontent free to all readers, regardless of how many articles they read. Inaddition to the benefits noted above, Slate Plus members will have access tothe following:

  • A private Facebook group to interact with other “Slatesters”and Slate Plus members
  • The Slate Plus Digest, a weekly newsletter
  • Access to recurring special events like PitchSlams
  • An ad-free version of the Slate iOS app
  • Access to the full edition of the Dear Prudencepodcast
  • Bonus access to Slate’s Slow Burn podcast
  • Access to archives
Slate Plus iOS app
Slate Plus iOS app. Image courtesy of Slate.

Insider Take:

Paying only $35 for the first year of a Slate Plusmembership sounds like a good deal, and the magazine offers a host of worthybenefits along with their independent journalism. However, the timing of thisannouncement is baffling. The American economy is sinking under the weight ofthe coronavirus pandemic. Subscription companies, including media outlets, areoffering free content or bringing down paywalls to educate, inform andentertain Americans as they honor “shelter in place” orders across the country.Millions of people have lost their jobs, and a stimulus package is weeks awayfrom being implemented. Why would a digital magazine choose now as the time toput up a metered paywall?

In addition, Slate does not specify how many articles areader can view before hitting the paywall. While larger outlets like TheNew York Times have experimented with different numbers of articles andeven customized subscription packages based on reader habits, Slate doesn’tspecify a number. Is it three, five, 10? We appreciate that publishing in adigital age is challenging, particularly in these unprecedented times, but thisdoes not seem to be the time to put up a paywall. Waiting another month or twois not likely to break Slate, and it seems far more prudent and compassionate underthe circumstances.

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