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COLUMN: New regional newspaper puts 'focus' on East Otter Tail

October 1 marks an end to the Herald and Enterprise-Bulletin as we know them - two newspapers exclusive to their respective communities. After 128 years of publication for the EB, and with the Herald in its 95th year, the two newspapers combine into one with the Oct. 1 issue.

The merger, announced at the end of August, will result in a new-look combined newspaper covering East Otter Tail County, with a focus on the communities of Perham and New York Mills. Ready to launch in just a couple weeks, it's a regional newspaper with a circulation nearing 5,000 - and a total readership of more than 15,000.

And the name? After kicking around the idea of a hybrid name featuring the Enterprise and Herald, staff from both newspapers decided to go in a new direction.

And the resulting name of this combined publication is the East Otter Tail Focus.

Its mission: To keep you informed about news, happenings, trends and people whether you live in rural Richville or Butler, or downtown New York Mills; the city of Perham, or on Otter Tail Lake.

One paper, one region - the East Otter Tail lake region.

Herald and EB publisher Louis Hoglund stated in an earlier editorial piece explaining the move, "The past year has been a challenging one for businesses everywhere - globally, nationally, regionally and locally."

The result of the challenging economic times is a combined, unified staff working on one publication, rather than two.

Hoglund went on to explain, "East Otter Tail has shining examples of businesses that are thriving, despite the economic downturn. But there are others that have not fared as well. Among them are your local newspapers.

"Challenges facing the newspaper business; and really, mass media in general; have been widely publicized. In reality, mass media revenues have been in decline - long before the current recession took hold."

The Focus will launch with a new name, new look, and new design, but the committment to hometown news remains a top priority. Readers can expect to still see what's going on with city businesses and school board news, as well as the numerous activities and events at the schools in both Perham and New York Mills.

There will still be an Arts & Entertainment section to feature and promote concerts, plays, and other events associated with places like the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and the In Their Own Words Museum in Perham.

Look to the Community pages for obituaries, wedding and engagement announcements, births, and anniversaries. Readers can also count on still finding college announcements featuring students from the area who make the Dean's List at their respective colleges and universities. The hometown news that has made the EB and Herald what they are today will remain in the Focus.

(Editor's Note: Kevin Cederstrom is editor of the New York Mills Herald, and he will serve as news editor of the combined New York Mills and Perham newspapers when they merge, Oct. 1.)