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Mass. Newspaper Erects Commenter Paywall

In a unique move in the news industry, The Sun Chronicle has started charging readers to comment on its website stories.

The Attleboro newspaper is charging a one-time fee of 99 cents to post comments online. If users want to pay by credit card, they can stop by the office to pay in person and show identification.

The point is, your name is on your comments.

"This is not about the revenue," said publisher Oreste D’Arconte, who's one of just 16 people so far to sign up to comment, as of Tuesday. He said it's about reducing the workload for his editors, who had to spend hours policing online comments.

"People would make blind accusations, unsubstantiated things," he said. "There was even some things where somebody would get injured in an automobile accident and it would be, 'Oh, this person deserved it, they’re terrible drivers.' It’s just crazy."

Critics say the pay policy silences those with unpopular minority opinions. But D’Arconte says his print newspaper never published an unsigned editorial, so it should be no different online.

The new policy also applies to The Foxboro Reporter and Taunton's Silver City Bulletin.

Related:

This program aired on July 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Curt Nickisch Twitter Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.

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