Paths to Subscription: Lessons in why recent newspaper subscribers chose to pay

This study may be the largest study ever undertaken of people who have recently subscribed to newspapers. It surveyed people who subscribed in the last three months to 90 local newspapers across the country. The survey of more than 4,100 recent newspaper subscribers captures their motives and mindsets at the time of the decision. The sample was large enough to see differences among large papers and small, reader preferences for digital consumption versus print, Democrats versus Republicans, and a host of other factors.

In this report, we identify nine distinct “paths to subscriptions”—the motives and conditions that together lead a person to subscribe. Some people are looking for coverage of a particular passion topic. Others have subscribed because of a change in their lifestyle. Some want coupons to save them money. Some discovered the paper through social media. Others want to support journalism as an institution. All are subscribers.