EDITORIAL: We’re Going Behind a Paywall


NJ Pen relies on reader support to continue its operations. We’re making some changes to make our work more sustainable.

By Matt Skoufalos | December 4, 2019

NJ Pen is free thanks to regular, small contributions. Please support our work.

For a long time, this statement closed out every story we’ve published. And for as long as we’ve tagged our stories like this, we worked as hard as we could to live up to its promise.

Our original vision for NJ Pen was a free-to-read news site. We’d hoped that folks who could afford a small, monthly contribution would cover the cost of low-income readers who couldn’t.

Instead, what we got was a huge, and still-growing, audience who was content to read along for free.

Our ability to grow a small, loyal subscriber base is the biggest thing that has made it possible for this model—local news supported by local readers—to survive for five years in an uncertain landscape for independent journalism.

But 130 paying members can’t offset the cost of producing work read by some 330,000 others annually.

If we’re going to make it for another five years, we need more people who believe in the work we do, and who read it often, to put their support behind it. So we’re making some changes to make it easier for everyone to chip in.

This month, we’ll be moving our content behind a paywall. After the first pageview in a given month, readers will be given the opportunity to subscribe to continue reading.

Our original suggested donation price point will not change.

For just $9 per month, readers will have unlimited access to our original reporting, five years worth of archives, and all the other features of the site.

We’re also adding a limited-access tier for those who need a lower price point.

For $5 a month, the new entry-level subscription will allow readers to access 6 pageviews.

If a fraction of the people who already read the site sign up at even this entry level, it will make a big difference.

We’ll also have the opportunity for readers to give an NJ Pen subscription as a gift. If you know someone who could use more local news in their lives, you can help bring them along. All our payments are securely processed by a third-party processor, and none of our subscriber data is ever shared with anyone.

Many of our services are still free. This includes our e-mail newsletter, text alert service, and our community calendar.

The costs of providing these functions will continue to be covered by subscriptions and advertising—and this is as good a time as any to thank our loyal advertisers, so many of whom have been behind our work since Day One.

Why does this matter so much? Because NJ Pen is a sole proprietorship run by a local journalist who is thoroughly embedded in the communities he covers. That editorial independence is vital. It makes our work accountable to itself, not corporate masters. We can’t be bought, but we must be supported.

For those of you who’ve had our backs all along the way, thanks for your support. We will continue doing our very best to bring you an informed, independent perspective on the people, places, and events that matter most to you and your family.

For those who are going to come along for the ride, we are so very excited to be able to show you how we can grow with your help.

Thanks again for reading.

Related coverage:


Want more NJ Pen? Get e-mails, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, or try Direct Dispatch, our new text service.


Comments are closed.