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Digital Fortresses: A cheat sheet to Toronto papers’ online paywalls

The Toronto Sun, home of Sue-Ann Levy, sexy bikini shots and amusing slip-ups, is the latest Toronto daily to try to mitigate waning print advertising revenue by charging for online content. The paper will erect a digital paywall next week, according to the Globe and Mail, which itself already has digital subscriptions in place. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star and National Post have both announced plans to institute walls in the New Year. Below, we break down all four papers’ plans to help you pick which to shell out for.

Globe and Mail
Print versus online: A print subscription costs $35.88 per month, entitling you to unlimited access to all online content. An digital subscription (which the paper is calling ”Globe Unlimited”) on its own will set you back $19.99 per month.
Start date: The digital fence has been up and running since late October.
How it works: Non-subscribers get access to 10 free articles a month, after which the paywall kicks in (though stories accessed through links on social media sites don’t count against your total, and avid readers have already figured out a way to trick the counter).
Subscribe if: You’ve got cash to spare, want full access to Canada’s newspaper of record and don’t mind reading a tarnished Margaret Wente.

Toronto Sun
Print versus online: A print subscription costs $31.69 per month and includes access to online content. The online subscriptions are a steal at $5.99 per month.
Start date: December 4 (i.e., next Tuesday).
How it works: Breaking news updates and blogs will remain free, but most other content, including columns, investigative reports, photo and video libraries and Sunshine Girl photos, will be behind the metered wall. Non-subscribers will be able to read 20 premium articles per month for free. The paper’s mobile app will remain free but will only contain summaries of news articles.
Subscribe if: You like to mix your hard-hitting stories about crime and municipal affairs with shots of scantily clad babes.

Toronto Star
Print versus online: A print subscription costs $29.52 per month. The paper has yet to set a price for its online subscription.
Start date: Likely early 2013.
How it works: The announcement from publisher John Cruikshank was short on details, but he wrote that “most print subscribers to the Toronto Star will receive free full access to’s content, wherever and however they want.” He also wrote that the paper will beef up its digital content with more stories, videos and podcasts after the paywall is in place.
Subscribe if: You like Toronto-centric coverage and want to support Rob Ford’s long-time media nemesis.

National Post
Print versus online: A print subscription costs $24.99 per month. The paper has yet to set a price for its online subscription.
When is it going up? Early 2013.
How it works: Postmedia executives haven’t given the specifics for the National Post paywall. However, it will likely be similar to the set-up at sister publication the Montreal Gazette, where readers can access 20 articles a month before having to cough up $9.95 for a digital subscription.
Subscribe if: You can’t live without reading Conrad Black’s latest column.

(Image: brick wall, Jo Naylor)