Subscriber Total Access begins

And with it, new e-editions and Afternoon Alert electronic headlines

The Daily Herald becomes the first newspaper in the Chicago area to begin charging for access to its digital content -- a necessity the company says is mandated by broad shifts in the traditional newspaper business model.

Print subscribers will receive a discounted rate to supplement their subscriptions with total access to Daily Herald content on all digital products -- the website, electronic e-editions, smartphone applications, a new iPad app that's about to be launched, an Android tablet app that's under development, and weekday Afternoon Alerts that provide the developing headlines directly to your PC, smartphone or tablet.

Two of those new products make their debuts today -- the e-edition that enables you to take an electronic replica of the newspaper with you when you're away from home, and the Afternoon Alerts that put you first on your block to find out about the top local news.

Print subscribers will be able to become Subscriber Total Access members for an additional $1 a week. A digital-only bundle is available to non-print subscribers for $19.99 a month. Day passes for digital content also are available for $2.99 per day.

Nonsubscribers will be able to sample 15 page views of nonpremium content online each 30-day period before payment is required. Some columns and blogs are premium items that are available only to subscribers. Some material such as obituaries, advertising and submitted news remains free to all.

="BriefHead">How to activate your digital account

Current print subscribers who do not intend to decline the Subscriber Total Access package must still activate their digital accounts, but it's a simple process to do so.

Our special page will walk you through the simple steps to activate your account. No credit card is necessary.

Those interested in a digital-only subscription can activate their accounts on the same page. But since they will be new subscribers, credit card information will be requested.