After 20 years of reading our stories and seeing our photos for free online at pineandlakes.com, the Echo Journal will start charging readers to access our online content beginning Tuesday, Oct. 8.

The Echo Journal, Brainerd Dispatch and all of our other sister publications owned by our parent company, Forum Communications, now offer digital memberships to access our websites.

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 8, we will offer three stories for free each month, and memberships for unlimited access to our website and e-edition will start with a trial rate of 99 cents for the first month and $9.99 per month thereafter.

Digital access is free for current Echo Journal subscribers.

We still strongly believe in our printed newspapers and will continue to publish the Echo Journal in printed form every Thursday. Digital is being emphasized so it can be a better supplement to our print products and to reach a wider audience.

“The digital membership model will help us invest in the resources needed to provide valuable local news that is important to our area,” said Pete Mohs, publisher of the Echo Journal and Brainerd Dispatch. “Over the years, we’ve adjusted and have worked hard to meet the expectations of our readers. We will continue to strive for diversity in delivering the news - from the traditional printed stories and photos, to video news and features, to 24/7 breaking news on our website and social media platforms.”

All Forum Communications newspapers are launching digital memberships in an effort to better position ourselves for the future of media. Paying for online services is now the norm, not the outlier as it was in the past.

“We intend to carry out our time-honored traditions of reporting on the truth and keeping our communities connected for many years to come. But to do that, we have to make some changes to prepare ourselves for a future that includes local news - not one that mourns the loss of it,” Forum Communications CEO Bill Marcil Jr. said in an open letter to readers in July. “That’s why we’ll be rolling out a new membership model on our network that will allow our most loyal digital readers to support the continuity of community journalism in exchange for all-access premium content, exclusive perks and a sense of community created by locals for locals.”

Members will receive:

  • Unlimited, unrestricted access to quality journalism content across more than 35 news and niche content sites within the Forum Communications network.

  • Access to the electronic replicas of any of our newspapers - including Brainerd, Perham, Park Rapids, Wadena, Alexandria, Detroit Lakes, Duluth and Rochester, to name a few - on any device.

  • The ability to tap into community history through archived content.

  • Invitations to live members-only events.

  • Exclusive deals and discounts.

  • E-newsletters and breaking news alerts.

New digital members and current subscribers will need an email address to activate their account. Anyone needing assistance can call 218-855-5897.

New rates

The Echo Journal hasn’t enacted a subscription price increase in many years, but now we must respond to the rising cost of ink and newsprint, as well as tariffs. Subscribers will receive added benefits with a print subscription, including access to all Forum Communications newspapers online.

New rates are:

Current subscribers in Crow Wing and Cass counties:

  • 12 months: $54.08

  • 6 months: $27.04

  • 3 months: $13.52

Current subscribers elsewhere:

  • 12 months: $57.20

  • 6 months: $28.60

  • 3 months: $14.30

New subscribers:

  • 12 months: $100

  • 6 months: $59.94

  • 3 months: 29.97

Current and new subscribers for digital only, which includes the e-edition and access to the website:

  • 12 months: $100

  • 6 months: $59.94

  • 3 months: $29.97

  • 1 month: $9.99