News Sentinel launches digital subscriptions

Our paid-digital strategy got under way about 6 a.m. today. Here’s how it works:
If readers have print subscriptions — Sunday, weekend or daily — all they have to do is activate their accounts using a simple online form. Then they’ll have unlimited access to everything on our websites and apps.
Nonsubscribers still will have access to much of the News Sentinel’s digital content, including national and international news, traffic and weather reports and classified advertising, as well as any urgent bulletins and vital information involving public safety. But routine breaking news will be available to nonsubscribers only for a few hours.
Subscribers, on the other hand, will be able to see all of our content all of the time, including exclusive reports, feature stories, columns and commentary that won’t be accessible without a subscription. Also, only subscribers will be allowed to post comments on stories.
That caused a bit of a stir when I announced it in my Sunday column. Some regular commenters said they would give up the habit. But many others said they already were subscribers and would continue to comment, or they would sign up for our new digital-only subscriptions, which cost $11.99 a month and include access to all of our websites and apps.

Knoxville News Sentinel ad urging readers to activate online accounts.

Knoxville News Sentinel ad urging readers to activate online accounts.

There were several questions about how comments would be handled under the paid-digital model. Here are some answers:

  • Commenters still will be allowed to use pseudonyms as user names, but there will be only one login per subscription, so multiple user names will not be possible. Commenters will not have to make their identities public, but the News Sentinel will have a record of the subscriptions. Subscriber information is proprietary and the News Sentinel does not resell or otherwise share its subscriber list.
  • The newsroom will continue to monitor comments and delete inappropriate ones. We also will ban commenters who flagrantly violate our terms of use. They will then have to decide if they wish to continue their subscriptions. I expect very few paid subscribers to exhibit such behavior, however. Newsroom editors have met to discuss this issue and will be respectful of the fact that all commenters will be paying customers now.
  • Readers will not have to be subscribers to read comments, only to post them. Many stories will be available to nonsubscribers, some for a limited time and some just as they are now. The comments on those stories will likewise be accessible by nonsubscribers.