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From newsroom to newsletter: How local journalists are DIYing important coverage via email
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Oct. 30, 2015, 11:52 a.m.
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LINK: www.thesun.co.uk  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   October 30, 2015

Add another one to the list of news organizations pulling down paywalls and dropping tablet apps. The Sun, the British tabloid owned by News UK, is dropping its paywall and also killing off its tablet app as of November 30.

Sun+, which cost £7.99 per month, had 225,000 subscribers as of December 2014, the last time it released a number. The paywall covered The Sun’s websites (including the Irish and Scottish versions), its mobile app, and the “Sun Goals” soccer-related smartphone and tablet app.

All of those will now be free. In addition, The Sun noted in an FAQ Friday that it’s getting rid of one of its tablet apps, while keeping — and continuing to charge for — another iPad app. “The Sun is moving to having a uniform digital presence across smartphone, tablet and online,” a spokesman told me.

The Sun Tablet app

We are discontinuing this app and it will no longer be available to access or purchase from any app store. If you would like to view The Sun content on your iPad or Android tablet you can download the Sun Classic App. See below for details.

If you took out an Apple subscription to the Sun Tablet, you will not be charged after October 30, 2015 and you will no longer be able to access the app from November 30, 2015.

The Sun Classic App for tablet:

You will be able to purchase a subscription to the Sun Classic app from The Sun website from November 30 for £4.99 a month. This will give you access on your iPad or Android tablet devices.

Alternatively, you will still be able to purchase access to the iPad version of the app directly through Apple’s App Store for £4.99 a month.

(Confused? Sun Classic is an app that simply provides a digital replica of the daily print edition.)

Sun+ had launched in August 2013. Mike Darcey, then CEO of News UK, told The Guardian at the time: “This decision comes from a deep-seated belief that it is just untenable to have 2.4 million paying 40p for the Sun at the same time as a bunch of other people are getting it for free.”

Darcey was recently replaced by Rebekah Brooks, who sent a memo to staff announcing the changes. Here’s her email:

I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing The Sun’s audience. This will mean setting The Sun predominantly free in the digital world from November 30. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail.

Recent months have been filled with experimentation at The Sun. The standalone political site SunNation won plaudits at election time, we increased the number of shareable stories on social media, we entered platform partnerships with Apple News and we will be a major player in Facebook Instant Articles.

The biggest recent success story has been Dream Team. We have a record 1.25m customers signing up to be managers and our content has reached 276m people on social media. Normally, we see interest drop off as the season progresses. This year, it’s going the other way thanks to Harry Burt and Harry Haydon’s clever use of engaging editorial content.

Entering this new chapter for The Sun, we are in a strong position thanks to the many learnings we bring from the paid-for era. We know more about our readers than ever before. Our recent acquisition of Unruly, and our ongoing collaboration with colleagues at Storyful, further bolsters our position and will play a big role in how we supercharge our digital advertising capabilities.

When all of this is added to our new blended revenue model of advertising, premium content and revenue streams such as Dream Team and other exciting opportunities on the horizon, I have every confidence that this digital evolution will ensure that the unique space The Sun occupies in British culture will be preserved – and enhanced.

We believe taking this step will further our prospects for long-term growth, drive larger audiences for our valuable content in the UK and Ireland, and help preserve our ability to create great journalism for our readers for years to come.​

As of November 1, Sun+ customers will no longer be billed for reading The Sun’s digital content and we will be transitioning to a largely free world by the end of the month. Successful paid-for products such as Club Dream Team and the pdf tablet app will be retained.

The Sun faced steep competition from Daily Mail Online, which is free. The Guardian reported that The Sun has also hired Keith Poole, who was the managing editor of Mail Online in the U.S., “as digital editor to bolster its team in the transition to a free site.”

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