Published February 13, 2022

Upside Down Under: Swinging the pendulum 

Written by
Marvin Baker
| The Dakotan
Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker

The world of communications is constantly changing and most of it runs parallel to the changes in technology. And for those of us who work in communications, it’s sometimes been a difficult transformation.

As an example in each of the past three years, North Dakota has lost three weekly newspapers in the Dunn County Herald in Killdeer (2019), the Walhalla Mountaineer (2020) and the Cavalier County Republican in Langdon (2021).

In addition, nearly every daily newspaper in North Dakota has made changes to accommodate the changes in technology, most notably the Dickinson Press moving from a six-day daily to a weekly newspaper.

Those of us in communications are quick to blame social media for forcing some of the changes newspapers have had to endure. However, that’s not always the case. The owner of the Mountaineer wanted to sell, nobody wanted to buy, so the paper ceased publication. In Langdon’s case, it was the issue of finding enough employees to keep the newspaper operating.

There are also examples of success in these changing times. They include the McKenzie County Farmer in Watford City and the Adams County Record in Hettinger. The Record is a paper that was set to close in 2019, but was saved by Jill Friesz of Elgin, who now operates four papers including Carson, Elgin, and New England.

Countless other newspapers in North Dakota are holding their own or doing well because of large subscription lists, savvy management, and just plain popularity among readers and advertisers.

There’s also a new “newspaper” in North Dakota that is beginning to catch the attention of a lot of people across the state. It’s called The Dakotan. It’s an internet only publication based in Minot, and it has a daily presence for the convenience of its readers.

The Dakotan can be considered an experiment, at least in North Dakota, that appears to be working. Tracking data shows some pretty impressive numbers which translates to a lot of eyes seeing the advertising which in turn, means a better bottom line.

This new launch, for the 21st Century, is like a once popular paper that started in North Dakota more than 100 years ago called the Non Partisan Leader. It was time for a change, and the Leader led that change for a number of years starting in 1915.

There have been digital newspapers in other states, but many haven’t risen to the equivalent level of a strong daily because of specific focus on politics, sports, entertainment, or medicine. Thus if a digital, such as The Dakotan, is to succeed, it needs to cover all those bases and that’s what it is working hard on accomplishing.

The first few days it was Minot only. Then reporters began branching out to Williston, Rugby, Bismarck. Soon there will be a state capitol reporter and correspondents across the state in communities like Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Jamestown.

Press releases, sports, opinion, and numerous other aspects of a traditional daily newspaper have been added to satisfy a statewide audience. It’s an exciting new way to sit at your kitchen table in your robe Sunday morning reading your newspaper on your iPad and sipping on a cup of coffee.

It’s certainly worth a look and many will take a second look and a third because of the quality of the content. It may be found at (www.mydakotan.com). The Dakotan doesn’t exist to replace any newspaper period. It is however, considered a complement to the traditional newspaper such as newspaper and TV have been for the past 70 years across North Dakota.

Many of us who have been around a while still believe we have ink in our veins and we love the smell of a paper coming off the press. That will never change. It will always be a fond memory for just about every journalist. What is changing is how we present the news to the reading public.

Nearly all newspapers have included online versions in some capacity that are slowly but surely gaining readership. It eases the cost of press runs, slow mail delivery that has gone downhill over the last 20 years, and it presents the reader with breaking news.

Do yourself a favor. Take a look at The Dakotan. I think you’ll like it. In no way, shape or form is The Dakotan on the internet to replace any existing newspapers. It’s here to complement them and bring notoriety to every corner of our state; from Pembina to Bowman, from Crosby to Hankinson.

The motto of The Dakotan is “Real, Honest, Local News.” And after meeting with the management on Feb. 4, I strongly believe that. It’s here to present the news in a professional manner, to remain objective, and to gain the trust of the public at large.

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