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COLUMN: New, stronger newspaper to emerge from merger

With change comes opportunity. That's the way I have to approach our announcement the New York Mills Herald and Perham Enterprise Bulletin are merging. The two papers will become one Oct. 1.

I could bore you with the business reasons, but I'll try not to. I'd rather look ahead at this opportunity to create a new publication that holds on to journalism tradition in this area as well as cultivates new ideas.

The simple explanation is the newspaper merger is a business decision based on economic survival. I'm not here to offer shallow economic statements similar to what we keep hearing over and over in the news these days. Statements like, "We made the decision to merge the two newspapers in order to help the company navigate this difficult and ever-changing economic landscape."

What does that mean? Well, for the Herald and EB it means consolidating staff and producing one newspaper, rather than two separate weekly newspapers. This will allow us to utilize all of our current newsroom resources and concentrate on one publication serving East Otter Tail County.

There is plenty to work out logistically, but leave that to us. I imagine you, the readers, are likely concerned about what this newspaper will look like, how is it going to benefit us, and what kind of impact is this going to have on our respective communities?

Each newspaper has a long history and tradition, and that has to be respected. Good or bad, though, times change. This is a big change, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, sometimes history has to step aside in the name of business. This decision, as were previous decisions made in regards to the Herald, has to do with business and doing what makes sense financially for the company.

By merging the two newspapers we are taking a different approach and will take on a new name, new look, with the focus remaining on New York Mills and Perham.

New York Mills will not lose its identity, nor will Perham. All the "Hometown News" that is so vital to a local newspaper will remain within the pages of this East Otter Tail publication.

One staff, one publication and one goal - to continue to deliver all the news that impacts New York Mills, Perham and the surrounding area.

We combined the two towns' sports sections into one a couple years ago with the idea of providing more extensive sports coverage in the area. For the most part, the East Otter Tail Illustrated sports section has been successful. There's always room for improvement in everything we do, but overwhelmingly the feedback regarding EOT Illustrated has been positive. Of course, there are criticisms and we take those seriously and continue to mold our sports section into a better product for everyone.

We plan to do the same with this new newspaper, with the not yet determined new name.

Whatever we settle on calling this new publication, we will continue to cover all the people, places and events which make New York Mills and Perham the unique and interesting communities they are. You're still going to find the local news, sports, announcements, features, etc. you are looking for, now in this East Otter Tail newspaper to be launched Oct. 1.

Not everybody is going to be on board. I fully expect, and welcome, constructive feedback. Over the last few years the company has made moves which gradually led up to this merger decision. We're here now at this merger point, and that's not all bad.

The communities of New York Mills and Perham are linked in many ways: by county, by employment, by family, and by where we live. In a perfect world, two autonomous community newspapers would remain and thrive. That's no longer the case, which opens the door to this new East Otter Tail newspaper.