Free.

We all love that word, especially when we are shopping. Free samples? Sure, I’ll take a few. Free shipping? You bet! Buy one, get one free of my favorite food? Absolutely!

For more than six months, you and tens of thousands of others have been receiving great content for free. We developed new websites and decided to allow our readers to receive our content online — our newspapers, our magazines, our special sections, everything — for free while we perfected our websites.

But giving away free content has a consequence. When we opened up our websites for free, we had many people say, “I no longer need to buy your newspaper anymore because I can get it free online.”

Well, as you have discovered, our websites are no longer free. You still can read up to three stories for free and after that, you will be asked to subscribe. But you won’t be given a one-size-fits-all offer.

Some of you may want to read the paper only online. That costs less. But most of you will want the newspaper delivered to your home. To your surprise, when you get the newspaper delivered to your home, you also get everything we offer online – including all our newspapers from the bordering cities, plus our magazines and special sections — at no extra charge.

Want to be surprised again? Our newspaper itself is getting larger. We’re already a larger newspaper than our competitors, and we are adding even more content, including new sections. Trying to read everything in your local newspaper in a single day will be the equivalent of reading a novel. No joke.

We do expect some people to use social media to say we should offer our content for free. But just like a grocery store cannot give away its food or a big box store can’t give away its merchandise, we can’t give away the very product that makes us unique — our local content.

I have been working for newspapers since I was a teen, and I remember an editor who used to say to people, “Subscribe to the newspaper. Make your neighbors jealous.”

That’s because reading your local newspaper does give you a different type of “free” in your life — freedom. When you know what is happening in your community, when you know who has been arrested, when you know if a road is being widened or if your taxes are going up or if the local high school sports team won a state title — when you know all this — you have the freedom to make choices.

So, when you and the tens of thousands of others who visit our website this week see that the window that says “Would you like to subscribe?”, we hope you take a look at the rates that work best for you and choose to be informed.

With your local newspaper, you have the freedom to form opinions based on facts, not on social media rumors or hearsay. With a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper staffed by hundreds of people giving you local news and more, you no longer have to learn about important events too late to do anything.

In short, as the saying goes, you can be the smartest person in the room.

See? You can make your neighbors jealous.

Ronald Dupont Jr. is the digital editor for Sun Newspapers and can be reached at rdupont@VeniceGondolier.com.

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