At 12:01 this morning, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette launched PG+, a members-only Web site with interactive features and exclusive content by Post-Gazette staffers above and beyond what the Post-Gazette already provides in its daily print and online versions.
PG+ will not replace post-gazette.com, which will continue to offer the same breaking news, features and multimedia content as always. Instead, it allows subscribers access to a new stream of exclusive blogs, videos, live chats and behind-the-scenes looks at the news of the day.
The new site, hosted by a team of PG bloggers, emphasizes user interaction, with commenting throughout the site. Members also will be able to create a social networking profile to keep the conversation going.
Content is being provided by some of the Post-Gazette's best-known personalities, including Ed Bouchette, Mackenzie Carpenter, Doug Oster, Reg Henry, Jack Kelly and Gene Collier.
Longtime Post-Gazette editor/producer Katy Buchanan is the site's editorial coordinator.
PG+ members also gain access to special Post-Gazette events, along with deals and discounts for sports, retail and entertainment venues.
The PG+ address is www.post-gazette.com/plus, which can now be accessed for an introductory tour.
The annual membership fee is $36, and monthly memberships are $3.99. For a limited time, those who sign up for an annual membership will receive a free copy of "Super Six," a book by the Post-Gazette chronicling the Steelers' most recent Super Bowl victory, a $14.95 value.
PG+ is not only new for the Post-Gazette; it's also a new, if not unique, approach to the online pay model for the news industry. Most news organizations that are contemplating charging for content are thinking of using "micro-charges," billing a small amount for clicks on individual stories. PG+, on the other hand, does not put any existing content behind a pay wall. Rather, it offers members access to a full array of all-new material while continuing the regular offerings as before.
Post-Gazette executive editor David Shribman said he didn't know of any other news organization doing this combination of exclusive editorial features and perks.
"This is an exciting moment -- a signature moment -- not only for journalism in Pittsburgh but also for journalism itself," said Mr. Shribman. "Plus, it's a really terrific Web site and -- I hope I'm allowed to say this -- a damn good deal."
Initial offerings include Ed Bouchette's blog on the Steelers, High School Edition video with Mike White, Rough Cut from editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers, Bob Hoover's Book Club, The Beat with Weekend editor Scott Mervis and a noontime Face Off with columnists Reg Henry and Jack Kelly. Mackenzie Carpenter will host the weekly Omnivore, a 10-minute Webcast on culture, politics, media and lifestyle, and Doug Oster will introduce several new features, including a gardening blog. More staffers and content will enter the mix as the site grows.
"PG+ is a natural extension of our news, entertainment and information resources that the region has come to depend on," said Post-Gazette President Christopher H. Chamberlain.
"It will add a richer dimension to the existing offerings under the Post-Gazette umbrella without reducing our current mix of print and online products," Chamberlain added. "It's a Web site for people who want a deeper connection to the Pittsburgh community and the best the PG has to offer."
Sally Kalson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1610.