Membership program being introduced on theday.com website

The Day Publishing Co. will soon introduce a new membership program that will offer unlimited access to its website, including premium online and mobile content, along with access to its extensive news archive.

The program also will feature a new web-based rewards program with special deals and events from a host of business, arts and entertainment partners.

The membership program, which ranges in price per month from $9.99 to $22.99 for top-of-the-line platinum service, will begin Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Current home-delivery subscribers to The Day are automatically members in the new program once they complete their registration at theday.com. In addition, each household that receives The Day newspaper at home may link up to two memberships to its home-delivery account.

"We take great pride in the quality journalism we provide to the communities we serve," said Gary Farrugia, The Day's publisher.

Using the new membership model allows The Day to maintain its quality journalism standards while providing new sources of revenue, and is part of a growing trend among media companies to begin charging for their online services.

The New York Times Co., for instance, recently began a metered-pay system for its website.

Those who don't subscribe to the new membership program will be allowed up to 10 "premium" staff-written articles or features on theday.com each month. Only those subscribing to the new membership program will be allowed commenting privileges on theday.com.

Under the new system, articles or features by The Day's staff will be considered "premium" content. Such content will be identified with a new "d" icon, signifying staff-produced work. Other content, such as stories produced by the various national news services such as The Associated Press, will continue to be available for free on theday.com.

A new "Your Town" feature will allow members to display up-to-the-minute local news from any town in The Day's coverage area.

Farrugia said more readers are seeking their news and information across a variety of Day platforms, from its flagship daily newspaper to online vehicles as well as mobile devices, such as smart phones. Such content, he said, "is worthy of the small cost of investment."

In addition, Farrugia said the revenue support from the new membership program allows an independent information company such as The Day to continue to cover and produce regional news, award-winning features, enterprise reporting and in-depth investigative articles. The Day remains among a handful of independent newspapers operating in Connecticut.

For more than a century, Farrugia said, The Day has been this region's premier source of information, first through its daily newspaper and increasingly over the past decade through a growing array of information services that include its website, mobile-phone applications and news weeklies, which now stretch from near the Rhode Island border to the greater New Haven area.

Despite the challenges that have buffeted the newspaper industry, The Day continues to have one of the highest readership rates of any daily newspaper in the country.

"We've spent nearly a decade building and establishing theday.com as a brand," said Farrugia. The website, he said, typically draws nearly 60,000 dedicated readers each day, and the figure continues to grow. "That's what driving us to put a price on our growing digital platform," he said.

Highlights of The Day's new membership program include:

• Unlimited access to theday.com, including the ability to comment on articles and features.

• Full access to The Day's extensive online archive, dating back to 1999.

• Free delivery of The Day's electronic edition to email accounts or tablet devices, such as Apple's iPad.

• Full access to all digital formats and services offered across The Day Publishing Co. platform.

• And enrollment in a new, and growing, member rewards program called The Day Passport, which features rewards, events and giveaways to local businesses, entertainment venues and cultural institutions including Mystic Aquarium, Garde Arts Center, Mohegan Sun and the Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut.

As part of the launch of the new membership program, The Day will feature an eight-page "how to" guide in its Sunday, Sept. 11, edition.

a.cronin@theday.com

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