On Dec. 3, the Sun Journal and our family of weekly newspapers will begin charging for Web access, and offering something unique in Maine: an all-access bundle of newspapers that will include the daily Sun Journal and six weekly newspapers in Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties.
As a current Sun Journal print subscriber, you will receive automatic access to sunjournal.com and our e-edition, as well as your home-delivered newspaper, on Dec. 3 at no additional cost.
When you renew your print subscription, you will receive the same deal for only pennies more per day.
In addition, most subscribers will join a membership program offering extra discounts and benefits that will more than cover the cost of your subscription. You will hear more about those benefits in the coming weeks.
Infrequent users of sunjournal.com will be able to view a set number of stories, initially 10, every 30 days before being asked to subscribe.
Some items, including breaking news and Associated Press stories, will be available to everyone.
Now, allow me to explain why we are just now doing what more than 200 U.S. newspapers — and most of the daily newspapers in New Hampshire — have already done: charging for unlimited Web access.
I began my newspaper career in 1976 by typing news stories on a typewriter, back when newspapers were only delivered one printed copy at a time.
We still deliver many thousands of newspapers that way, a single store rack and doorstep at a time, and we expect to do so for many years to come.
But we all recognize that a remarkable new wave of technology now allows us to deliver — and you to receive — news and advertising on devices that were unimaginable even a decade ago.
Those devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops, in addition to desktop computers — mean Sun Journal customers receive the latest news day or night, while on a beach or at a ski lodge, customized for the device they are using.
Now you can be connected to Maine and your community instantly, whether you are a retiree in Florida, serving in the military or simply out of state on vacation.
Today, our reporters and photographers bring you news while it is happening, or only minutes later. We bring you video, audio and the ability to participate in conversations with your neighbors.
But it takes additional people, expertise and equipment to produce content for not only our print newspapers but for all of the new devices.
While this has been a difficult time for newspapers nationally, we have worked very hard to maintain our traditional news and sports coverage even as more people have switched to reading us on the Web.
Over the past 15 years, we have made more and more of our news content available without cost on the Web.
We are now asking our Web users to join our print subscribers in helping to provide professional news coverage of our cities and towns at a cost that fits all budgets.
Membership means you are willing to support our reporters, photographers and freelance writers in doing what no one else does: cover our state and hometowns while providing a forum for ideas and opinions relevant to Maine and our region.
Membership will help the Sun Journal and our weekly newspapers continue to be advocates and voices for our region of Maine on the state and national level.
As I mentioned, membership will be a two-way street: You will be supporting local news coverage but also receiving a variety of benefits and discounts.
Please watch for details of these new programs over the coming days and weeks in the Sun Journal and at sunjournal.com.
I believe all of our newspapers provide an important public service — maintaining an informed citizenry in an increasingly complex world, while connecting you to your friends, relatives and neighbors.
With this new program, and your help, we can continue providing that same level of high-quality service for many years to come.