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March 24, 2014, 11:04 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   March 24, 2014

Slate hopes its readers want to become members.

This week the site plans to launch Slate Plus for $5 a month or $50 a year. The membership program is something like a modified digital subscription, but not a traditional paywall, as nonpaying readers will still have unlimited access to most of the features on Slate.com.

What will members get? From The New York Times:

A Slate Plus membership will give readers special access to the site’s editors and writers, as well as members-only discussions with Emily Yoffe, Slate’s Dear Prudence advice columnist. Members will also be invited to give advice on which politicians or entertainers they would like to see profiled.

On top of that, members will also be able get access to ad-free versions of Slate’s network of podcasts. Members will also get reserved seats at Slate events (not free, but at discounted prices).

This is not the first time Slate has tried to convert readers into paying customers. In 1998 the site experimented with a paywall, asking readers for $20 a year. That plan was subsequently scrapped and the site reverted to a free model.

But the site began offering hints it was again moving into paid content in 2012, when it polled readers on their willingness to pay for Slate’s content. At the time, Slate Group chairman Jacob Weisberg was very adamant that the site was not pursuing a “pay model.”

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