Reuters finally decides to charge you for its online news stories with a paywall

By Kim Lyons

In this photo illustration a Reuters logo seen displayed on... Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As online publishers grapple with how to replace dwindling ad revenue and find new ways to bring in money, Reuters, one of the largest news organizations in the world, is using a strategy that’s been around for years and putting its online content behind a paywall.

Reuters.com draws 41 million unique visitors monthly, according to the company, but it has not charged for access like other news sites in its business-centric niche have done for some time. It will let users read five stories a month for free and plans to charge $34.99 a month for a subscription. That’s a bit pricier than a sub to The New York Times ($18.42 / month) but closer to similar news organizations of its type, including The Wall Street Journal ($38.99 / month), which put its paywall up in 1996, and Bloomberg.com ($34.99 / month), which added a paywall in 2018.

Reuters said it generates half of its revenue from its largest client, the financial data firm Refinitiv, and also makes money from online advertising. The company says it has redesigned its website with a “professional audience” in mind and plans investment in segments like legal news and live streams of its events.

How online news is paid for has been the topic of discussion among publishers for years; online advertising doesn’t bring in the level of revenue that print ads used to for newspapers, and publishers often have to rely on platforms like Facebook and Google to push their content to readers. Google has battled with lawmakers in Australia who want the search giant to pay publishers for their content. And amid renewed scrutiny of social media platforms and how they siphon ad revenue from news publishers, a bill introduced last month in Congress aims to give more leverage to publishers when negotiating with platforms for a share of ad revenue.

While both Facebook and Google have initiatives that pay some publishers to license their content, for many news outlets online subscriptions are a major part of their revenue streams.