Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Newspaper merger

Tough news out of western Minnesota...the Hancock Record has essentially bit the dust. It is being molded into the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper to form a new, merged newspaper called (it's a mouthful) the Stevens County Times, Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record.

You can read more about the merger and read about the problems facing their respective Hancock and Morris newspapers here:

We are very lucky in the Bonanza Valley to have terrific business and community support that has helped the Bonanza Valley Voice basically double in size in a little over two years. While many area newspapers are suffering, the Voice has grown from around 650 subscribers to 1,242 as of today. Along the way, print advertising has grown by leaps and bounds at our newspaper. It is perplexing to hear how print ads are down at other newspapers such as the Hancock Record. Anyone who has any familiarity of Hancock knows that it is a town that offers near-unequaled school and community support.

If those two western Minnesota newspapers would have asked for my advice, and listened to my advice, I doubt this merger would be necessary. However, they are owned by the Fargo Forum corporation, and I doubt they would give me the time of day. Local ownership is a must in today's small-town newspaper world.

R.I.P., Hancock Record!

Compared to what is happening at some rural Minnesota newspapers, we have an opposite problem here at the Bonanza Valley Voice. Take this week, for example. We printed 14 pages, but we had enough content and advertising to easily go to 16 pages. The only thing holding us back from going to 16 pages was a lack of time. The last four to five issues have been bursting at the seams with local news, and each week a long, long list of local content did not get printed. That is extremely frustrating to me, but we are not currently staffed to "do everything we want to do" each week. We simply have to get by on what we have for man power, and lately it has been working out fairly well - with a few bumps and bruises along the way. *This week a section giving coverage for the varsity fastpitch team was omitted in order to print a full list of "We Love Our Moms" letters from the current B-B-E kindergarten class. Those "We Love Our Moms" letters were supposed to publish in the May 11 issue, but lack of space did not allow it. Those were not easy decisions, but just a couple examples of the "hard choices" we make each week that doesn't involve the phrase "shuttering the newspaper office."

From the bigger picture, this spring's sports coverage has not lived up to the standards I've set as the publisher. My goal is to make up for it with top-notch playoff coverage for our B-B-E varsity teams in the coming weeks.

Truth be told, behind the scenes, the Voice has had a very rocky, unstable 2017. If you have been regularly reading my publisher's column in the print edition each week, I've dropped hints at the difficult time we've had in the last two-and-a-half months. I have been hamstrung, mostly by the lack of time in each day, to implement numerous ideas to improve on our local news coverage and feature article writing.

The upside: for the foreseeable future, there will be no name changes going on at our locally-owned B-B-E newspaper, nor will there be any merging going on in the Bonanza Valley! Hooray!! We are fully on track to get to 1,300 subscribers before this fall - which was an ambitious goal we set at the start of 2017. In fact, I have every expectation that we'll get to 1,300 subscribers before Bonanza Valley Days weekend (July 7, 8, 9)!!! This is at a newspaper being published in a town with a population of about 750.

We won't slow down and catch our breath until subscribers number at least 1,500 at the Bonanza Valley Voice.

Lest anyone think that because of the size of our newspaper or the size of the towns we operate in, that we will take a back seat to larger media outlets in the realm of's a link to watch the live stream video archive of the elementary band and choir concert held on May 3: We don't shy away from running with the big dogs and taking on new projects and implementing new strategies to deliver you the news in the Bonanza Valley.

...and if you want, you can tune in to this Sunday's B-B-E senior baccalaureate service at the Bonanza Valley Voice streaming website. Thanks to the support of our local business community, this is another service provided by our newspaper. Here's the link to watch the video player at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 21 from St. Francis de Sales Catholic church in Belgrade:

Thanks for stopping by!

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