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Perry: A nice, new challenge

J.J. Perry, Perham Focus editor

Last September, we dined at Brygge, and then found our way to the Historic Holmes Theatre to see The Revolution, Prince's backing band out on a reunion tour. It was a three-and-a-half-hour trip up for the show, to a place we had never been before.

As we drove through town, my wife and I remarked on what a beautiful area this was, and what a lovely theater to have a show. Driving through winding, hilly roads, we thought maybe someday we could move someplace like this.

If you had told us that night that, some eight or so months later we would be moving to Detroit Lakes, well, we would have thought you were having a little too much fun at the concert.

But June 3, I started as editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus.

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans, right?

And I was busy, as executive editor at the American News in Aberdeen, S.D. After eight years at the helm, I was getting restless, and ready for the next challenge. That challenge came in January of this year, when our family-owned newspaper company was sold to a large chain. I transferred as editor to my hometown Indiana newspaper, the place where I got my professional start in 1997, but it just wasn't the same paper, or the same town.

I missed the Dakotas, and I missed the life Tina and I had crafted up here.

When the editor opportunity presented itself, the pieces fell (mostly) into place. In our many travels to the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, we fell in love with the state, big and small. Minnesota ... nice!

And our new challenge began, in Detroit Lakes and Perham.

Rest assured, this challenge comes with a smile. In just more than a week's time, I have met several great newspaper people in both newsrooms. They are guided by a publisher, Melissa Swenson, who is fiercely loyal to her team. My new company, Forum Communications in Fargo, puts its focus on employees, and a culture of collaboration and respect.

Even my predecessor, former editor Paula Quam, has been nothing but gracious and helpful while I move into this new role and new life.

That "nice" is nourishing for me, a powerful fuel to propel our work.

I believe deeply in a local newspaper's connection to its community, a relationship that shouldn't be taken for granted. We must work every day to gain your trust and earn your loyalty.

At a time when journalism is under fire, and traditional media such as newspapers and television are being bought, gutted, sold and closed, the function of a community newspaper is still valuable.

The Perham Focus and the Detroit Lakes Newspapers serve to keep our communities informed and engaged. To talk about what you need to know; to know about the things you want to talk about.

In that respect, a newspaper is like your best friend: That person who gives you the honest truth, even when it's tough to hear. The person who makes you laugh, who is reliable, who introduces you to interesting neighbors or takes you to that new shop you've heard about.

And, that best friend is the person who sings along loudly to "Purple Rain" with you, no matter how embarrassing.

Contact Perham Focus Editor J.J. Perry at 218-844-1466, jperry@dlnewspapers.comor follow @jjperry on Twitter.