Major news outlets make coverage of the novel coronavirus free to readers

Major publications and newspapers  are dismantling portions of their website paywalls to help readers find the most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus. 

They have created new guidelines on best reporting practices for their journalists, but they’ve also created new content packages and email newsletters that focus on COVID-19. Many, especially those in New York City, have encouraged staff members to work from home in efforts to encourage social distancing.

The Atlantic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News have made coronavirus coverage available outside their paywalls.

“This is a public health emergency. If we have information that’s important for people to read, I’m not sure how ethical it would be to keep that from them if they didn’t give me their credit card,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, in an interview with Adweek. “We didn’t go into journalism to sell subscriptions. We went in, with any luck, to inform and enlighten the public. And help people.”

Outlets offering novel coronavirus coverage outside the paywall created a digital membership program in 2018 and has put COVID-19 coverage outside paywall “for free indefinitely” according to a Bloomberg spokesperson.

The New York Times also has a section available to everyone.

The Wall Street Journal has a live page and created a new daily video series that are available free of charge.

The Los Angeles Times has a free landing page and newsletter.

“Offering free information on the coronavirus offers an opportunity to reach new customers [and] readers, who may stick with the publication afterward and perhaps be willing to pay later if they are impressed by the content,” said Tom Meyvis, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Many of these organizations have recently put the paywalls in place as they grapple with falling subscription rates and struggle to keep advertisers happy.

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