Brainerd Dispatch launches digital memberships Tuesday

The Brainerd Dispatch on Tuesday, Oct. 8., will roll digital memberships for its websites. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

For 115 years, getting the news from the Brainerd Dispatch meant paying for a copy of the printed newspaper.

The advent of in 1996 resulted in delivering the news in a different way. And for 23 years our readers were able to peruse local, state and national news offered by the Brainerd Dispatch on its website -- free of charge.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, that will change.

The Brainerd Dispatch and its sister publication, Pineandlakes Echo Journal, will be rolling out digital memberships for its websites. We’ll be offering three articles for free each month, and memberships for unlimited access to our website and e-edition will start with a trial rate of 99 cents the first month and $9.99 a month after. Digital access will be free for current Dispatch subscribers.

To deliver a better bang for your buck, the Dispatch and its parent company, Forum Communications Co., is strengthening its coverage to provide a wider array of content from an expanded variety of fields -- news, health, outdoors, entertainment, business and sports, just to name a few categories.


Printed newspapers themselves are not going anywhere, nor will they become an afterthought. Digital is being emphasized so it can be a better supplement to our print products and to reach a wider audience. Journalism is important to the health and vitality of the communities we are part of and our staff members provide a source of information on everything from bridge scores to school news, health tips to business changes. We serve as a watchdog to keep readers updated on what is happening to their tax dollars. To continue to do this work, community journalism needs support in order to thrive.

“The digital membership model will help us invest in the resources needed to provide valuable local news that is important to our area,” said Dispatch publisher Pete Mohs. “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.”

The digital memberships are being launched by all newspapers in Forum Communications in an effort to better position itself for the future of media. Paying for online services is now the norm, not the outlier as it has been 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 papers -- including Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Rochester, Bemidji, Red Wing and Willmar, 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, and

  • E-newsletters and breaking news alerts.

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

Rates for digital, print

The rollout of digital memberships comes on the heels of several changes at the Brainerd Dispatch, including a new website and updated subscription rates.

The rates are as follows:


6 days (Sunday-Friday), includes online access

  • 3 months: $62.01

  • 6 months: $124.02

  • 12 months: $248.04

  • 1 month option not available unless on EZ Pay

6 days with EZ Pay (automatically withdrawn from either a credit card or bank account)

  • 1 month: $18.50

  • 3 months: $55.51

  • 6 months: $111.02

  • 12 months: $222.04

3 days (Thursday, Friday and Sunday) includes online access

  • 3 months: $48.88

  • 6 months:$97.76

  • 12 months:$195.52

  • 1 month option not available unless on EZ Pay

3 days with EZ Pay (automatically withdrawn from either a credit card or bank account)

  • 1 month: $14.56

  • 3 months: $43.68

  • 6 months: $87.36

  • 12 months: $174.72

Sunday-only delivery, includes online access

  • 3 months: $38.87

  • 6 months: $77.74

  • 12 months: $155.48

  • 1 month option not available unless on EZ Pay

Sunday-only with EZ Pay (automatically withdrawn from either a credit card or bank account)

  • 1 month: $11.96

  • 3 months: $35.88

  • 6 months: $71.76

  • 12 months: $143.52

Digital only, includes e-edition and access to the website

  • 1 month: $9.99

  • 3 months: $29.97

  • 6 months: $59.94

  • 12 months: $100

Matt Erickson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 2000 as a reporter, covering crime and courts and the city of Brainerd. In 2012 he was promoted to night editor and in 2014 was promoted to editor of the newspaper.
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