Fairfax takes down paywall around bush fire coverage

By AdNews | 22 October 2013

Fairfax titles The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have taken down paywalls around NSW bush fires coverage, but News Corp hasn't yet followed suit.

Fairfax suspended the paywall around bush fire-related coverage last Thursday afternoon, when the fires were raging across the state, and said it will continue to be freely accessible until the emergency is over.

It means anyone who doesn't have a Fairfax digital subscription or has hit the limit of their 30 free articles a month can still access the site's coverage.

“As of last Thursday afternoon, we've made all of our bushfire coverage free as a community service to the people and communities of NSW affected by bushfires,” said Fairfax Media director of News Media Garry Linnell. “Our readers rely on The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to provide timely bushfire alerts and information to keep them informed in a rapidly evolving emergency situation.”

However, News Corp hasn't made a move yet. A News spokesperson said: “We haven't as yet, but we are constantly monitoring the situation and will of course remove the subscription settings should the situation deteriorate.”

Fairfax's initiative is similar to those made by overseas publications in other times of national tragedy or emergency. In April, The New York Times did the same thing around coverage of the Boston Bombings, as it had during Hurricane Sandy.

At the time, Fairfax and News Corp both told AdNews it would consider removing the paywall in circumstances of national importance.

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