Welcome to your new Bemidji Pioneer.
Today marks our first edition of our new twice weekly publication. This past Sunday, Sept. 29, marked the end of an era -- daily (at least five days a week) newspapering in Bemidji.
I fully admit, when I heard the news a few months back about the switch, I was disappointed. Really disappointed. Not only for you, the readers, but for myself, too. You see, I've been a daily newspaperman all my career -- 26 years now. I mean, how do you even report on news that happens seven days a week, but only print two days?
So why I am excited today?
Because we are still here.
In the past 15 years, some 2,000 newspapers have closed across the United States, depending on which study you look at. I won't go into all the boring business details, but just know that as core print newspaper readers age, and the internet booms, revenues have declined across the board in circulation and in advertising. For many years, our competitors were other media outlets -- radio and television. Who are our top competitors now? Google and Facebook. Slightly larger companies with much deeper pockets than your average radio or TV station.
According to Penny Abernathy, the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, this industry trend has left almost half of the counties in America (1,449) with only one newspaper, as reported by the website 24/7 Wall St. And a study done this past summer shows that 171 counties do not have a newspaper at all, according to the same report.
And if you think this trend is just hitting smaller communities, you'd be wrong. Even the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently announced it was cutting its print production to three days a week.
So why am I excited again?
Because we are still here.
And we will be well into the future.
In fact, the Pioneer will be better than ever under this new format. We will continue to deliver local news stories seven days a week at bemidjipioneer.com, while also bolstering our printed product with even more local content. You will see more stories and items about people and events in the community than you did before.
We are a local newspaper, and it is our mission that we will deliver that local news to you -- whether it be reading it on your smartphone, tablet or, gasp, getting ink on your fingers from a printed newspaper.
As you've hopefully seen in the past few weeks, we've added a new staff member -- Bria Barton. She's come to the Northwoods from South Carolina to report on travel and tourism in our region -- a booming industry that we know is important to our readers. Starting this week, you'll find a weekly column from Barton about neat and cool places you can visit with just a day trip from Bemidji.
And you might also have recognized more bylines from one Dennis Doeden. No, he's not a new cub reporter. Yes, that's our now-former publisher who has returned to his roots of reporting. Dennis is a great writer, and I look forward to bringing you his stories each week.
We are also adding local writers to our Editorial Page. We want to move the Editorial Page away from all the national divisionist, partisan politics and return the page to a focus on local opinions and local issues important to the Bemidji community. Hank Slotnick and Sue Bruns will start writing weekly and monthly columns, and we are looking to add other voices from our community, too. For example, Tim Lutz, superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools, will be a monthly contributor. Look for more local voices coming soon.
But how do you cover Sports, with live events almost every day of the week, and only printing two days a week? We're still going to cover the games -- you'll still see Austin Monteith, Micah Friez and Multimedia Editor Jillian Gandsey at the bevy of local events. They do a terrific job of that live coverage at bemidjipioneer.com and on social media. What we will add now is more feature stories of local athletes, coaches, trends. We also plan to do more stories out in the region, recapping how teams and athletes are doing in Blackduck, Red Lake, Cass Lake, Laporte, Bagley and more.
So that's why I am excited today.
We are still here.
And we are better than ever.
Cory is Editor of the Pioneer. Originally from East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a graduate of UND and worked at the Grand Forks Herald for 19 years before coming to Bemidji as Editor in 2013.