The Arkansas Times unveiled a digital membership program which will offer unlimited access to its four blogs, invitations to monthly cocktail parties, and first dibs to purchase event tickets. The membership program goes into effect on August 1 and will cost $9.99 per month.
Readers will have free access to up to 10 blog posts per month before a metered paywall kicks in.
“We can’t continue to produce aggressive, trenchant, independent reporting and analysis without increased reader support,” said publisher Alan Leveritt in a blog post announcing the program. “A new model for funding, in which readers bear a share of our costs, is vital to the future of the Times.”
The effort is largely possible due to the huge popularity of its politics and news-focused Arkansas Blog, powered by senior editor Max Brantley. Leveritt told the Neiman Journalism Lab that the blog received 201,000 unique visitors in June:
“A local business owner says, ‘You know, I’m addicted to the Arkansas Blog.’ The guy who runs the Clinton library used the same word â€” he says, ‘I’m addicted.’ And so am I! We’ll look at that thing six or seven times a day,” says Leveritt. “That’s the group we’re targeting with the digital membership. They’re our most engaged readers, and we think they’ll pay to keep this going.”
… And the Times, being left of center, does stand out ideologically in the market. [Editor Lindsey] Millar says part of their strategy moving forward will be to make sure that the readers who are core â€” not necessarily in that they read the site everyday, but in that they are most ideologically aligned with the goals of the Times â€” understand the importance of maintaining a robust progressive voice in Little Rock.