What do you mean I have to subscribe?

With an increasing number of readers preferring to get their news online, The Mount Desert Islander has built a strong digital presence. Our website, mdislander.com, delivers breaking news, in-depth community reporting, photos and event listings. Unlimited access to the site is $2.99 per month. Non-subscribers may read up to three free articles per month.

Our online business model has prompted many questions and comments. We’d like to take the opportunity to respond to those asked most frequently here.

Other news sites are free, why should I pay?

You’re right, there are news organizations that don’t require online subscriptions. No other news organization has a staff of 5 reporters and editors covering Mount Desert Island, Maine. We show up at school board meetings, town meetings, high school games and accident scenes. We are part of this community and take pride in covering it well. Without financial support from our audience, we could not afford to perform those tasks. We are not alone in charging for our work. A 2013 analysis by the University of Missouri School of Journalism found that 70 percent of U.S. dailies charged for online content. Of those that didn’t offer online subscriptions, 55 percent indicated they planned to do so in the future.

Why only three free articles each month? Other sites allow more.

Three articles permits readers to sample our work or read an occasional story of interest. We encourage visitors who want more news from our local area to consider subscribing.

Facebook is a free site, why are you posting links to stories that I have to pay to see?

While joining Facebook is free, not everything posted is. Restaurants use Facebook to promote their dinner specials, Realtors advertise their latest listings and theaters hype upcoming shows. Our subscribers follow us on social media to keep up on the latest news. Non-subscribers can access up to three free articles every 30 days. For more, yes, they will have to pay.

Why are you charging for something the public deserves to know?

Keeping the public informed is the foundation of journalism. We want local residents to know about news that will affect their lives. In order to report that news, we need to pay our bills and our employees. Our revenue comes from newsstand and subscription sales as well as advertising.

Why is it so expensive?

We think our online subscriptions are reasonable. For just $2.99 per month you can have unlimited access to mdislander.com. Buying the paper on the newsstand each week would cost $104 plus tax per year.

Advertising revenue should cover the costs of online news, right?

Wouldn’t that be great? The truth is, newspapers depend both on advertising and circulation revenue. Our print newspaper isn’t free, it’s available thanks to our loyal subscribers and advertisers. They help us do what we do!

I buy the paper at a newsstand each week, why can’t I read online for free?

First of all, thank you for being such a loyal reader! By the way, you can save a lot of money by subscribing. In Hancock County, a print subscription is $40 per year — that’s more than a 60 percent savings off the newsstand price and includes the digital edition and full access to our website. Newsstand buyers obviously are anonymous. We lack the ability to establish such a purchase online.

Click here to learn more about our subscription options.

Never miss a beat! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get top stories sent straight to your inbox.