I think of The Charlotte Observer as part of the lifeblood of our community.
In the morning, were on your breakfast table as you catch up on the latest story on city government or read a review of a new movie.
At lunch, were on your computer at work where you can easily check out the local news of the morning and get the latest national developments.
And in the late afternoon or evening, were with you when youre on the go, with the latest about the Panthers on one of our mobile apps or the next days weather.
Were proud to be so integrated into your daily life and we work hard to earn our reputation as Charlottes premier news and information provider each day, just like weve done for the past 126 years.
As your life has changed to include regularly using the Internet and mobile apps, we have changed how we do our jobs here at the Observer. For example, you now see live chats on our website or insider blogs on topics such as the Panthers and the Bobcats at www.charlotteobserver.com. We post news 24 hours a day and send a message to your mobile phone when a big story breaks.
Today, were announcing a new evolution for the Observer: The Charlotte Observer Plus.
Starting Wednesday Dec. 19, our digital news will become part of our subscription packages with the new Observer Plus plan. The Observer Plus plan includes print and digital products, or digital-only products for those who dont want a print newspaper.
People who dont have digital subscriptions will be limited in what they can get from us on our website or smartphone apps. For example, in a 30-day period, people without a subscription can read only 15 stories from their personal computer.
Our readers want more news on more platforms than ever before, and were introducing these new multi-platform subscription plans to make sure we can continue to give readers the news when, where and how they want it. It also means you can easily buy your all-access pass to all our great content.
We are not the first news organization to begin digital subscriptions in fact, more than 300 newspapers around the country charge for online content, and more will be doing so in the future.
Yes, this means that if you get our printed newspaper delivered, youre going to pay a little more each week. This will be effective with your next renewal.
Print subscribers will continue to have free digital access until their current subscription renews. Regular digital readers who do not already subscribe will be asked to do so after viewing a set number of stories.
Heres what will be in the digital package:
• Unlimited access to www.charlotteobserver.com, which includes breaking news, searchable databases, in-depth news, blogs, photos, opinion and a whole lot more.
• Unlimited access to news from our mobile platforms, including our news and Carolina Panther apps for iPhone and Android, as well as news through m.charlotte.com.
• Unlimited access to our digital replica edition of the printed Observer. This is a real treat for those who havent used it yet its just like a newspaper, but on your computer or iPad. You get all the news, advertising, photos in a searchable, enjoyable-to-read way.
I hope this column helps you understand why youre going to pay a little bit more for your subscription, but Id appreciate hearing your questions and thoughts. Beginning Dec. 19, well have a Web page called charlotteobserver.com/plus that will include detailed information and answer more questions about the new program.
In addition, you can immediately email questions or comments to email@example.com, and Editor Rick Thames and I will host a live chat on our site to answer your questions once weve launched. If you have a specific circulation account question, you also can call 1-800-532-5350. Please note that the Thanksgiving holiday may mean a long wait time, and Id recommend you not call about the digital subscription until after Dec. 1.
I appreciate you reading the Observer, in print, on charlotteobserver.com, on our smartphone apps, on your tablet or on our replica e-edition. I pledge to you that our commitment only grows stronger as technology changes: We work to serve our community and earn your trust every day.
(See Observer Plus Q&A for more information.)