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Forum Communications to launch paywalls on its news websites

The company owns more than 30 newspapers, radio stations and TV stations across 4 states.
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The news websites owned by Forum Communications will be going behind a paywall in the near future.

In a letter on its websites published Monday, Forum CEO Bill Marcil, Jr. announced that the company will be launching a "new membership model on our network" in the coming months.

While he didn't say what the price would be, Marcil says that subscribers would be given "all-access premium content, exclusive perks and a sense of community created by locals for locals."

The Forum owns more than 30 TV stations, radio stations and newspapers across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin, among them the Duluth News Tribune, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, and their recent acquisition, the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

While most of its TV and radio outlets are based outside of Minnesota, it retains a  significant presence in online and print news in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, with readers of multiple newspapers set to have to pay to keep up their access to their local news websites.

"Casual readers" meanwhile will still be able to read a "limited number" of stories each month, which is similar to what the likes of the otherwise paywalled Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press offer.

In his pitch to readers, Marcil extols the virtues of local journalists, saying that "if not for us, who is going to tell the stories of our communities?"

'I can assure you, it’s not going to be your aunt on Facebook. It’s always been us, and it will always be us," he writes.

"We intend to carry out our time-honored traditions of reporting on the truth and keeping our communities connected for many years to come," he adds. "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."

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One newspaper that won't be included in the rollout however will be the Farmington-Rosemount Independent Town Pages, which publishes its last edition on Aug. 1.

Wisconsin outlets affected meanwhile include the Hudson Star Observer.

Here's a list of Minnesota-based, Forum-owned newspapers and websites:

  • The American (covering Blackduck, Kelliher and Northome)
  • Bemidji Pioneer
  • Brainerd Dispatch
  • Detroit Lakes Tribune
  • Duluth News Tribune
  • The Hancock Record
  • Hastings Star Gazette
  • Lake County News Chronicle
  • Morris Sun Tribune
  • Osakis Review
  • Park Rapids Enterprise
  • Perham Focus
  • Pine and Lakes Echo Journal
  • Red Wing Republican Eagle
  • Rochester Post-Bulletin
  • South Washington County Bulletin
  • Worthington Daily Globe
  • Wadena Pioneer Journal
  • West-Central Tribune
  • Woodbury Bulletin

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