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Hibbing newspaper erects a paywall

Kevin McHale’s hometown paper strikes a blow against the free, even if its publisher isn’t around to hear the feedback.
By David Brauer

Add the Hibbing Daily Tribune to newspapers erecting a paywall. [Update: And the Mesabi Daily News and Grand Rapids Herald, too.]

In note published today (still free to read, but registration required) the Daily Tribune announced it would adopt the new policy Tuesday. Subscribers will get web access for free, but all others must pay $6.95 for four weeks, $39 for six months or $65 a year.

I wasn’t able to get publisher Wanda Moeller’s explanation — there was nothing in the note, and she’s off for the week, according to the polite-but-unhelpful phone answerer. Way to drop a bomb and run, Wanda!

The paywall is not likely to be a huge moneymaker in Kevin McHale’s birthplace — the Daily Tribune had a daily circulation of 4,500 when it was last audited in 2007. (Mesabi had 9,000 readers the same year, the twice-weekly Grand Rapids had 7,000 in 2006.) Typically, smaller papers have next-to-no web revenue, and want to keep locals reading the print version.