Editor's note: An earlier version of this editorial indicated we would be switching on our online paywall the last week in October. The switch has been delayed until the first week in November.

News organizations -- and the public who rely on them -- have realized that they can’t continue to give away content online. The “free” model is not sustainable. It never was.

Starting in November, RiverTown Multimedia will join the rest of Forum Communications Co. and launch a paywall. We have alerted our readers through stories, columns and conversations in recent months about imminent changes. In September, a full-page letter by CEO Bill Marcil Jr. appeared in all our print products explaining what we intend to accomplish. He puts it this way:

“We’re reinvesting into our newsrooms to better cover our regions, adding to our video capabilities and upgrading our news websites. We’re publishing news stories as they happen and focusing on delivering content in whichever format our readers want it. And we’re doing this all with one core value in mind: journalistic integrity – a standard that is rare but more important than ever in our social media-frenzied world.”

National surveys show that readers want local news. In fact, “supporting local journalism” is the No. 1 reason more than 30% of digital news consumers cite when asked why they subscribe. Another 30 percent say they strongly desire access to community news.

When you visit www.rivertowns.net starting Tuesday, Oct. 29, you will get free access to three stories per month. If you want to read other online stories after that, you will need to become a member -- a partner, if you will -- in the local news organization.

Some readers may ask, “Why should I have to pay when I’ve been getting it for free?”

We invest in gathering news content every day. Our reporters travel to events, cover meetings, interview sources, research, verify facts, take photos and shoot videos. That’s all before the writing and editing process, which takes more time.

We know this content is valuable, and your responses have made it clear that you think local news is invaluable, too.

Your membership through online only or the print-online bundle will give you:

  • Unrestricted access to journalism content at rivertowns.net plus Forum Communication’s four-state network. That’s 30-plus news and niche content sites including our sister publications Duluth News Tribune and Superior Telegram that, like RiverTown, straddle the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

  • Access to e-papers or electronic replicas of all FCC newspapers, including the Republican Eagle, serving Goodhue and Pierce counties; the Star-Observer serving the Hudson, River Falls and New Richmond communities in Wisconsin; the Bulletin, which covers the Woodbury and Cottage Grove region; and the Hastings Star Gazette.

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

As technology evolves, so does journalism as we continue to tell the community’s stories.