Ledger-Enquirer launches online subscription plan

September 1, 2012 

Starting Tuesday, we're offering Ledger-Enquirer Plus, a digital subscription plan that allows you to read and enjoy the Ledger-Enquirer in all its forms.

If you're a current print newspaper subscriber, we're giving you the opportunity to add full access to our mobile, Internet and digital newspaper for less than $2 a month, or just 7 cents a day. If you aren't a current print subscriber, you'll have the option of getting a digital-only package including mobile, web and the electronic replica of the print newspaper for less than $7 a month, or about a quarter a day.

Yes, we're going to start charging for access to all of our platforms, including the Internet. Occasional readers can still access our home page and section fronts like local news, sports, features and business, but you'll need a subscription to click on more than 15 pieces of content in a month.

Our competitors and naysayers look for signs that newspapers are dying. This is not one of them. On the contrary, this is a sign that we are thriving.

So far this year, readers have viewed more than 32 million pages on ledger-enquirer.com, and we're on track to eclipse last year's mark of 42 million page views.

We have, by far, the Chattahoochee Valley's largest news team. Other local media outlets and bloggers can offer you some of the breaking news and headlines we do, but without the depth and context -- the how and why.

Without the Ledger-Enquirer, it's likely you'd never know that a local judge was being investigated, or city leaders were diverting taxpayer dollars into private accounts, or that a school official had failed to report criminal behavior by a teacher.

Most recently, we told you that Callaway Gardens was selling land to alleviate its debt burden and that convenience stores charged with illegal gambling had made donations to political incumbents in charge of enforcing the laws and prosecuting the cases.

Stories like these are hard to get, because the people involved don't want you to know about them. It takes skilled reporters cultivating sources, searching for tips and digging through public documents to uncover information that holds leaders accountable, give you the facts you need to protect your home, family and money, and -- yes -- preserve our democracy.

For more than 180 years, we've brought the news to citizens' doorsteps once a day, and we've won two Pulitzer Prizes doing it. Now, through advances in technology and the restructuring and retraining of our newsroom, we bring you news and information 24/7 on your phone, tablet and laptop -- and once a day in your printed newspaper and digital replicas.

These changes also require a change in our business model. We can no longer expect advertising to support all these platforms and options, or for print subscribers to shoulder the burden. Around the country, more than 300 newspapers already charge for online content.

Speaking of other newspapers, you've probably heard that some papers have eliminated their printed edition on certain days, or even gone web-only.

Not us. We will continue to print a newspaper seven days a week, and produce in-depth analysis, investigations and narrative storytelling that are tailor-made for print newspapers -- and digital replicas.

This week, we'll start running mug-shot galleries online of people who commit felonies in Muscogee County, and this fall we'll be adding databases of useful information including government salaries. We're also developing online forums dedicated to exposing and solving community problems such as crime, childhood obesity, and the effect of poverty on local schools and test scores.

Keep in mind that our website is not our print newspaper online, and our print newspaper is not our website in print. People use them differently, and to stay ahead you'll want to use them both, as well as our mobile and upcoming tablet apps.

Here's your opportunity. Welcome aboard.

Rodney Mahone, president and publisher of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer; rmahone@ledger-enquirer.com.

Rodney Mahone, president and publisher of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer; rmahone@ledger-enquirer.com.