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Print, online and now iPad app, Brainerd Dispatch adds another outlet for readers

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Already a presence online with Twitter, Facebook and, Phil Siebel, digital manager at the Dispatch, said that the iPad app gives readers another option for access to Brainerd lakes area news.

“The main difference between this and reading it on Safari at (Brainerd Dispatch) online is that (with the app) this is exactly how the actual paper looks as printed that day,” said Siebel. “It’s exactly how we lay (the paper) out in print. You don’t get that on the website.

“Essentially (the app) is your paper with some really cool added features.”

Joining the ranks of at least a half-dozen other publications from Morris Communications, the Dispatch’s parent company, the iPad app allows readers to download current and past editions free of charge, enhanced with photo galleries and the ability to format pictures that originally were only seen in print to a digital version capable of sharing on social media.

“It’s taking the format of news and the way it’s presented to that next level,” said Siebel. “I can get the entire newspaper in a smaller package format. If it’s wet outside I don’t have to worry about my newspaper getting wet or worried about crumpling pages. On top of that, there is so much digital interaction for our area.”

Siebel said that breaking news and alerts that are normally shown on the website, such as severe weather and school closings, will pop up as an alert on your iPad whether the Dispatch app is open or not.

And while the app and past editions are offered for free download right now, Dispatch Publisher Tim Bogenschutz said that like the changing times, that too will be altered in the future.

“There will be a charge for all our content eventually,” said Bogenschutz. “All newspapers are realizing that you can’t continue to put out the news in a small or large town environment without charging for it.

“So what we’re looking at down the road is that if you get the paper, for an extra small charge you’ll be able to get all the different types of news we have in every different format we have: the e-edition, online, (smart)phone and now the tablet (iPad).”

And despite the drive to become more digitized, Bogenschutz said he’s not worried that it’s a sign of the print-newspaper becoming a decaying business.

“Not a chance,” Bogenschutz said of the idea that the presence of digital media hurts newspaper companies like the Dispatch. “We’ve got more people reading us now than we ever have. We have roughly 25,000 reading our daily paper and 35,000 reading on Sundays according to our recent survey.

“We have our normal readers who are getting the paper, who may be a higher age demographic but we have almost a quarter-million unique visitors to our website or to our iPhone app and now we’re talking about adding the iPad app to increase that availability.

“We’re more accessible then we’ve ever been before and we’re not going away.”

Questions on how to download the latest Dispatch app can be answered at the Brainerd Dispatch booth at the Brainerd Lakes Marketplace event from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).