media update’s Aisling McCarthy takes a look at some of the most popular news sites with subscription options and weighs up the options available.

It’s not only in South Africa that paywalls have cropped up — it’s a worldwide journalism phenomenon. Globally, the media industry is in peril, and paywalls and subscription models seem to be the way that many publications are tackling the crisis.

The state of journalism

The last few months have driven publishers into a state of panic, bringing five years worth of problems to every media house within the space of a few weeks.

“During the lockdown period, RNA, Caxton’s distribution of magazines, as well as On the Dot, Media24’s distribution arm, confirmed that no magazines would be distributed during the lockdown [period in South Africa],” says Marina Kruger, media manager at Target Media Directory.

On top of this, ad revenues have dried up, with certain publications seeing it decrease by up to 75% in the space of a single week. However, all is not lost for the media industry, as readers are becoming more willing to pay for what is deemed to be quality journalism.

What do news subscriptions cost in South Africa?

If you’re an avid reader of news, but you’re not sure what your subscription options are, we’ve got you sorted! Here’s a breakdown of some of South Africa’s most prominent newspapers and what a subscription fee will cost you:
  • The Citizen — This publication only offers three-month or annual subscriptions. A three-month option will cost you R115 (just over R38 per month), whereas an annual subscription will cost you R297.
  • Daily Dispatch — R45 per month for the digital-only edition, R95 for the e-edition and the digital version and R149 for the print and digital editions.
  • News24 — A monthly subscription will cost you R75 for access to digital-only content.
  • Daily Maverick — Users can choose how much they would like to pay for a subscription, but monthly subscriptions start at R75. Annual subscriptions start from R900, but users can determine any maximum amount they would like to pay monthly or annually.
  • The Times — R10 for a daily pass, R80 per month for a digital-only version (including The Sunday Times) and R89 per month for the print and digital versions (including The Sunday Times)
  • The Sunday Times — R15 for a daily pass, R80 per month for the digital-only version and R89 per month for the print and digital versions.
  • Beeld — R99 per month for the online-only option.
  • Die Burger — R99 for the online-only option (The Digital Plus package, which includes hard copies of papers will set you back R109 per month).
  • Mail & Guardian — R99 per month for a digital-only version (or R980 for an annual digital-only subscription), R165 per month for a print and digital version (or R1 950 for an annual print and digital subscription).
  • Business Day — R394 for the BL Premium Plus package (Business Prime, the top of the range offering, comes at a cost of R750 per month).

What do news subscriptions cost overseas?

Across the globe, numerous publications have taken up the subscription route, so here’s what a subscription to some of the most popular global publications will cost you:
  • New York Times (USA) — A digital-only version will cost you $2 per week (billed $8 every four weeks for a year long period). In Rands, that works out to about R135 per week (costed as R16.78 to the Dollar).
  • The Cipher Brief (USA) — A level 1 annual membership will set you back $120, which equates to just over R2 000. That works out to around R170 per month.
  • The Australian (AUS) — The publication offers two options for annual subscriptions. A digital-only version, or a digital version plus a weekend paper will set you back $10 per week (approximately R670 per month), whereas digital version plus six weekday papers works out to $18 per week (that’s just over R1 200 per month).
  • The Guardian (USA) — A weekly print version of The Guardian global magazine will set you back $6 for six issues, or $75 per quarter. That works out to just under R420 per month. A digital-only subscription costs $19.99 per month, which equates to around R340.
  • Washington Post (USA) — An all-access digital pass will cost $100 per year; that’s about R1 700 annually, or approximately R140 per month. A premium digital subscription costs $150 annually, equating to just over R2 500 per year, or R210 per month.
  • Telegraph (UK) — The standard access subscription to this site will cost you ?2 per week (working out to about R180 per month), and the all digital access subscription will set you back ?6 per week (at around R530 per month).
  • The Wall Street Journal (USA) — A monthly digital-only subscription will cost you €9.99 per month (which works out to around R200 per month).
  • Financial Times (USA) — Expect to pay $67 per month for a digital-only subscription to the Financial Times (that’s about R1 125 every month).
  • Independent (UK) — A premium subscription costs $12.99 per month (that’s about R220), whereas a Daily Edition plus the premium subscription works out to $16.99 per month (or around R285).
  • TIME Magazine (USA) — The digital-only version of this magazine will cost you R459 for a year, with access to 52 issues. The print and digital subscription cost for a year is R499, also with 52 editions throughout the year.
Would you be willing to pay for what you deem to be quality journalism? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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Want to know more about why News24 decided to introduce digital subscriptions? Check out our article for all the details.