Last week I learned that seattletimes.com, a site on which I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with goings-on in my old hometown, wants me to pay a subscription fee in order to continue reading their online content.

While I find it frustrating to be asked to pay for what’s always been freely available, I also understand how capitalism works.

And the Seattle Times isn’t alone. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other A-list news sites also follow the pay-for-full-access model.

But what if, instead, those companies chose to provide free access to their content in exchange for readers agreeing to share the articles they read via social channels? The more articles a visitor shares, the more points they would accrue, which could then be applied toward additional free content. If the visitor at any point fell short of the agreed-upon share quota, then they would be required to pay a nominal fee to once again gain access to the site.

According to this Bloomberg Businessweek article, that’s the model being pursued by a South Korean entrepreneur who’s attempting to revive her grandfather’s Seoul-based literary magazine which shuttered operations in 1970.

If her business model proves profitable I believe it will become the modus operandi for online publications the world over.

It also will demonstrate to small-business owners just how powerful content-sharing can be, especially if the shared content dovetails with a broader social media strategy that combines content marketing with the latest SEO (search engine optimization) best practices.

I’d love to hear your opinions regarding online content providers’ pay-to-read requirement. Has one of your favorite news sites adopted such a model? If so, did you stop visiting the site, or did you pay to subscribe?