As we celebrate 125 years here at the Pioneer, I want to take the opportunity to thank our community for supporting us all these years. Though some of us have only been at the paper for a short time, the legacy and the strength of those who came before us gives us the drive to continue on each and every day.

The world of journalism has changed a lot over the years, adapting to the ever-changing environment as technology has increased.

These developments have given us the opportunity to grow, and to find new and creative ways to share the news with our community and beyond.

With the many benefits that technology brings, it also presents its own set of challenges. Being part of the bigger Forum Communications Co., and having stories from reporters located around the state on our website at times can make it feel less like a “small town paper” than it once used to.

While that may be true, we are grateful to be able to have the resources to share so much more with our audience than the small staff at the Pioneer would be able to all on our own while focusing on the 40 or so mile radius we cover around Bemidji.

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A couple of years ago we went from printing papers five days a week to two, and many were worried that we were on the brink of closure, the products would be worse, or things would be less relevant. But it’s actually just the opposite.

As the print days decreased, our ability to focus more locally increased. Now, rather than having to spread our local stories and resources between five papers, we can fit it all into two bigger and better papers.

And, instead of having a lot of what we call “filler stories” from national newspapers, nearly all of what we print in our newspaper is written by someone at our Bemidji office. We still throw a regional or state-wide story in the paper occasionally, but we make sure it is relevant to our audience and beneficial to the community.

As we head into this next era, here is my thoughtful request to those of you living in our coverage area: take the time to get to know us. Learn our names and what beats we cover. That way, when you read an article and see who wrote it, you can put a face to the name and go, “Hey, I know them!” Or when you have a topic of interest or a news tip, you know the perfect person to send it to.

So, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to myself and my team.

My name is Annalise Braught and I’ve lived in the Bemidji area for about 15 years and love this community dearly. I’ve been at the Pioneer for a couple of years now doing reporting, photography and a myriad of other tasks. I stepped into the editor role in January 2020, just in time for one of the craziest years of our lives, and it’s been an adventure.

Many of you know Dennis Doeden, as he spent many years at the helm of the Pioneer as publisher. He stepped down from that role a little over a year ago and in his semi-retirement became a reporter covering arts, entertainment, business and lifestyle stories in addition to putting together the Blackduck American and BuyLine papers each week.

Jillian Gandsey has also been at the Pioneer for quite some time. Many of you have seen her out and about with her camera, at sporting events and just about anything else that happens in these parts. She is my right-hand lady and teaches me new things every day.

Matthew Liedke is our go-to guy for coverage of city and county government, business and health. He’s had a busy year with that beat as I’m sure you can imagine!

Bria Barton is a South Carolina transplant who moved up here to the crazy-cold north to cover travel and tourism for us and Forum Communications Co. That beat has had its challenges this past year, motivating Bria to cover a whole variety of things from local restaurants struggling through pandemic restrictions to fishing and hiking.

Hannah Olson has maybe the broadest beat of them all, covering all things education related in this diverse region, crime and courts, and just about anything else we throw her way.

Hannah LaVigne’s primary task is writing up all those press releases you send us, and getting things like donation announcements, community news, and events out there for our readers to see.

In our sports department we have Austin Monteith and Micah Friez attending games and keeping our readers up to date on all sports-related happenings around the region, along with great throwbacks and features.

We couldn’t do any of this without our Publisher Todd Keute leading the charge, and each of our incredible business office folks keeping us rolling. And we’d be remiss not to mention our front desk staff, who patiently help our readers with their accounts each day and a whole lot more.

If you want to learn more about your local journalists, check out the contact page on our website.

Even though times are crazy and a lot of unknowns lay ahead of us. Trust me, there is still a terrific group of Pioneer journalists right here in town ready to work for another 125 or so years, and we aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Annalise Braught is a photographer and editor at the Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.