PIONEER PERSPECTIVES: Sharing stories looks a little different in 2023
Mailing clippings isn't the only way to share your favorite newspaper stories these days.
A half-century ago, when someone read an interesting article in the newspaper, they clipped it out and mailed it to a friend or relative. Might have even bought some extra papers to share it with more people.
Don’t laugh, all you whippersnappers. That’s how it was when I was just getting my newspaper career started.
It was quite a different story last month when I had the privilege of writing about memories of Mike and Maggie (Tangen and Carlson), the Bemidji teachers-turned-musical duo who brought so much joy to legions of kids and adults in the 1980s and ’90s.
Sure, there still were some folks who clipped and mailed copies of the story. But this newfangled social media concept allowed many others to click and share, and to swap memories instantaneously. It was rewarding to know that the story touched people, and I know the comments meant a lot to Mike and Maggie.
That’s so cool. And it’s why I shudder when I hear someone say the newspaper business is dying. It’s true that we don’t deliver as many print editions as we once did, but because our owners have continued to place an emphasis on news content, our readers still can count on the Bemidji Pioneer to inform and entertain them.
In addition to our loyal subscribers who appreciate the option of reading a printed version, our online audience continues to grow. As of last month, we have nearly 1,500 digital-only members. All of our subscribers also have access to the websites of regional newspapers such as Fargo, Duluth, Grand Forks and Rochester.
I was honored to be inducted into the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Half Century Club this winter, and it got me thinking about some of the highlights of a 50-year career in newspaper work. And it all started with encouragement from my high school journalism teacher.
Some of those career highlights have Bemidji connections from before I arrived at the Pioneer some 22 years ago.
When I was a sportswriter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, I did stories on four people who either grew up in Bemidji or made their mark here.
One was golfer Bill Israelson. It was a rainy day at the Moorhead Country Club, and I interviewed Bill during a weather delay in the KX Pro-Am Tournament. He shared stories about his time on the PGA Tour, which included two full seasons, and his three victories on the Asian Tour. But he also talked about getting his start at the Bemidji Town and Country Club and the hometown folks who supported him along the way.
I met up with former Bemidji State hockey great Joel Otto when he was working at a youth camp at the Moorhead Sports Center. Otto was wrapping up a stellar 14-year NHL career with the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers. His overtime goal in Game 7 of a first-round game against Vancouver sent Calgary on its way to winning the 1989 Stanley Cup.
But he was most proud of his days at Bemidji, which included a 31-0 national championship season in 1983-84. He spoke fondly of his college coach, R.H. (Bob) Peters.
I also covered the Moorhead State Dragons football team, which was coached by Bemidji High School graduate Ross Fortier. In 23 seasons at Moorhead State, Fortier was the school’s all-time leader in wins with 152 and won nine conference titles.
One of my favorite feature stories was on one of Fortier’s star running backs. It was Troy Hendricks, another Bemidji product, who was a four-year starter for the Dragons. Hendricks led the nation in scoring and rushing as a junior and was named a second-team All-American.
Dennis Doeden is the former publisher of the Pioneer. You can reach him by phone at (218) 333-9771 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.