Globe and Mail to introduce online paywall

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s biggest newspapers, plans to begin charging readers for access to articles on its website amid an industrywide search for alternatives to slumping print business.

The Toronto-based newspaper has yet to decide how many articles a reader will be able to access for free or what price it will charge after that number has been reached, it said on Thursday. Staff are also being asked to take unpaid leave over the summer to cut costs.

Publishers have struggled for several years to define a profitable business model for online content even as advertising and circulation of their traditional print products drop off.

Earlier this week, the publishers of the Toronto Star and the Sun chain of titles separately said weak print advertising sales weighed on their quarterly results.

The publisher of the country’s biggest chain of daily newspapers, including the flagship National Post, posted a loss last month and said it might sell its headquarters as it cuts costs and reshapes for a digital age.

Several top-tier newspapers have initiated varying models by which readers must subscribe or pay for online content.

Pearson Plc’s Financial Times and News Corp’s Wall Street Journal, which emphasize corporate rather than general news for elite readerships, have both put much of their online content behind a paywall.

The New York Times Co recently tightened its online policy, halving the number of articles readers can view for free.

The Globe is controlled by the Thomson family’s holding company, Woodbridge Company Ltd, which also owns a majority interest in Thomson Reuters Corp.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; editing by M.D. Golan