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PUBLISHER'S COLUMN: We’re reaching more people than ever before – believe it or not

It is frustrating when I hear someone say that newspapers are dying, that no one reads the newspapers anymore, or that advertising with the newspaper doesn’t give you as much bang for your buck as it did in the good old days. None of those things are true.

Opinion web graphic dlpf
Opinion graphic
(Forum News Service)

As the publisher of three newspapers, the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal, it is frustrating when I hear someone say that newspapers are dying, that no one reads the newspapers anymore, or that advertising with the newspaper doesn’t give you as much bang for your buck as it did in the good old days.

None of those things are true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The Perham Focus, in print and online at perhamfocus.com, has more readers now than ever before in the history of the newspaper — including the glory days of the Perham Enterprise Bulletin and Contact Shopper. Perhamfocus.com has reached 417,485 people in the United States in the past 12 months. Yes, you read that number right. That equates to more than 34,000 different people a month.

Melissa Swenson, Publisher
Melissa Swenson, Publisher of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal<br/>

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you add in the power of all of Forum Communications’ digital offerings, the sky's the limit as to how many people you want to reach. We are the leader when it comes to delivering digital information to the region.

We are also reaching more people in more age groups than ever before. Google Analytics for perhamfocus.com shows that nearly 24% of our readership is aged 35-44, 20% is 55-64, nearly 17% is 45-54, 15.5% are 25-34-year-olds, and just over 15% are 65 and up. Our print readership skews toward the higher-aged demographic.

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I have been in the newspaper business for more than 22 years. In that time, I have been a witness to so much change! I am so grateful to work for a company that got in front of those changes early and started investing heavily in our digital platforms as well as our content. Forum Communications is at the cutting edge when it comes to delivering news and information in a timely fashion to its readers. Yet we are having a difficult time connecting the old with the new, the print with the digital, and conveying the importance of local journalism in our communities.

We are grateful to those of you who have stuck with us through this journey of change. Your investment helps to promote Perham Pride by supporting the work that we do.

It’s no secret that many newspapers have gone by the wayside over the past 10 years. COVID has added more closures at an alarming rate. Most have been small weekly newspapers — which is devastating for the communities that have lost them.

In a recent article from the Poynter Institute, when communities lose their local newspapers, they also lose transparency and accountability with their local governments. Research shows that taxes go up and voter participation goes down. After all, who else attends your city council and school board meetings? Who digests that information and presents it in a clear manner to keep the public informed?

The Perham Focus print edition has a lower page count than in times past. We no longer have the space to include every press release sent to us. We make every effort to fill our news hole with content that matters and is relevant for our weekly print readers. But the good news in all of that is that we have unlimited room on perhamfocus.com, and since we have more online readers than print readers (many read both), the information is getting out to the public. It’s just in a different way.

Whether you support us with your advertising dollars, purchase a membership, or buy a copy of the Focus on newsstands, we are grateful to those of you who have stuck with us through this journey of change. Your investment helps to promote Perham Pride by supporting the work that we do.

We thank you.

Related Topics: PERHAMCOMMENTARY
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