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From the Editor: Changing to meet demands, expectations of our readers

Readers of the Bemidji Pioneer newspaper and companion website,, might have noticed a few changes during the past seven weeks.

During this time, we've made some tweaks to both media platforms: a shift in news content and focus, more consistently following Associated Press style, greater emphasis in matching art with lead stories, and a cosmetic facelift to the newspaper website, which is updated regularly throughout the workday to add the latest news from around the region and nation.

Some of those changes may have been subtle to slip past many readers without much notice.

More changes, some of which will be more apparent and dramatic, are on the way. Some of the changes will happen quickly, others take longer to implement because there are many moving parts.

For much of the last decade, the newspaper industry has struggled to identify what readers want, provide it to them and stay viable and relevant in a fast-paced, changing society.

There's no question, though, that we need to change to meet the demands and expectations of those who read our product.

As we move along on this journey, I'll be explaining some of the changes and the reasons behind them to readers in this column.

In my short seven weeks on the job as editor of the Pioneer, it's clear to me that Bemidji is a dynamic, complex and interesting place to live and work.

A quality community newspaper should reflect the people, events and culture of its readership. Here at the Pioneer, that's what we aim to do.

We'll continue to get community news - upcoming events, new hires and promotions, donations and a variety of voices - into the paper. At the same time, we'll be looking at how and where it is in the paper, aiming for consistency and balance to reflect the Bemidji area. We'll aim to make the paper look better while providing more context, detail and follow-up in the stories we write.

Not everyone will be happy with all the changes. Others will welcome many of them, finding more and new content in the paper.

As we travel along this route of change, I encourage reader feedback. If you have a story idea or want to let someone at the newspaper know what you think about the changes, I encourage you to call me at (218) 333-9774 or drop me an email at

Steve Wagner is editor of the Pioneer.

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

(701) 780-1104