The Washington Post Building
The Washington Post Building

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Ready to start paying for some of your local news consumption? The Washington Post will implement a paywall on its website beginning this month, the paper announced today. A just-released memo (read it below) lays out what the new model will look like.

The new metered subscription system, which will affect some readers beginning on June 12, will limit nonpaying users to 20 articles or multimedia features per month before asking them to pay for more. In addition to its print subscriptions, the Post will sell digital subscriptions for $9.99 a month (for Web only) and $14.99 a month (for Web and mobile apps). If you have a print subscription, you’ll still get full digital access. In the memo, Post publisher Katharine Weymouth says the paywall will be tweaked based on users’ experiences.

In an email, Post spokeswoman Kristine Coratti writes that the paywall will apply to all readers “likely within weeks of the initial launch date.”

The most obvious comparison is to the New York Times, which debuted its paywall in 2011. The Times gives readers 10 free items per month; its digital subscriptions range from $15 a month (for Web and mobile phone access) to $35 a month (for full access to all the Times‘ digital products, including an iPad app and the ability to share a subscription with another reader). As with the Times‘ paywall, Post stories accessed through search engines, links, or social media will still be readable by nonpaying users who have reached their 20-items-a-month limit.

The Times paywall has largely been seen as a success—-the Grey Lady nowhas more than 600,000 digital-only subscribers—-although its rate of new digital subscriptions has begun to slow. Part of the gamble of instituting a paywall is its impact on a newspaper’s online ad rates, and the Post‘s will almost certainly see a dip. But given the Washington Post Co.’s last dismal earnings report, the paper’s executives are probably salivating at the thought of a new revenue stream.

Weymouth’s letter to Post readers is here. And here’s the memo:

The Washington Post To Begin Digital Meter Rollout June 12

Subscription model to be implemented over multiple weeks

WASHINGTON—June 5, 2013—The Washington Post today announced that its metered subscription model will be phased in over a period of several weeks beginning June 12. The Post plans to implement the meter to random selections of readers to ensure they have the best possible experience.

The metered model will initially require a paid subscription after 20 articles or multimedia features have been viewed per month. Digital packages will be priced at $9.99 per month for access to the desktop and mobile web and $14.99 for the Digital Premium package, which also includes access to all of The Post’s custom apps.

“Over the coming months, we will learn more about how everything is working, listen to reader feedback and modify our model accordingly,” said Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, The Washington Post. “There is going to be a great deal of experimentation ahead to strike the right balance between ensuring access to critical news and information and building a sustainable business.”

Home delivery subscribers will continue to have complimentary access to all of The Post’s digital products. Access to The Post’s homepage, section front pages, videos and classified advertising will not be limited for any readers.

Students, teachers, school administrators, government employees and military personnel will have unlimited access to The Post’s digital content while in their schools and workplaces. In addition, visitors who come to The Post through search engines or shared links will still be able to access the linked page regardless of the number of articles they have previously viewed.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery