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Neighbors section among changes in the Dispatch

Those expecting to see the Neighbors section in Wednesday's paper have noticed a change in recent weeks. Neighbors is no longer a dedicated section appearing in the paper. It's been part of the Dispatch for decades, but its purpose evolved over time.

Those expecting to see the Neighbors section in Wednesday's paper have noticed a change in recent weeks.

Neighbors is no longer a dedicated section appearing in the paper. It's been part of the Dispatch for decades, but its purpose evolved over time.

Years ago, the Neighbors section was created by combining special weekly sections covering communities to the north and south of Brainerd and Baxter. In more recent years, it became a section where the Dispatch would include reader submitted photos of life in the lakes area, highlight dogs and cats in need of adoption through pets of the week, showcase youth activities and columns-like those from the Minnesota State Patrol along with features and photos from Camp Ripley. We still value all of those pieces and plan to incorporate them into the daily pages of the Dispatch.

In order to make room for the addition of the USA Today pages recently added to enhance what we provided our readers, we needed to reduce pages elsewhere. In creating the daily paper there is a goal in mind with a desired ratio of news content to advertising revenue. We are eliminating sections in an effort to meet industry and corporate page standards.

To keep to that goal and add the USA Today pages, we've trimmed here and there and moved some content online. Those changes were made thoughtfully in order to continue to provide the coverage readers expect. As of now, only Neighbors and the Religion section are affected.

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The church directory, a listing of area churches with phone numbers and addresses that was printed weekly in the Dispatch's Friday Religion section was one of the changes with content moving online. It is still available to our readers online at bit.ly/2oa06G9 through the Dispatch website but will no longer appear each week in the printed paper.

Though all the changes the Dispatch has made in recent years is in response to a changing world and industry-as news evolves toward a digital presentation-we continue to recognize our strong and continuing readership in our print product.

The Dispatch has expanded coverage and video online and through social media via Facebook and Twitter. Links to top stories of the day are delivered via email for those who sign up. The entire paper plus 10 pages of the USA Today are available daily through the Dispatch e-edition, which can be subscribed to independently from the paper or come automatically to those with a six-day a week print subscription. Digital avenues create multiple options for the Dispatch to reach many readers and viewers, whether it's online, via social media or in our print pages. No matter the method, the determination, challenge and goal is the same-to bring quality journalism about local issues and people to readers every day. Sharing the stories of the communities we also call home remains as important to us today as when people first began printing the paper in 1881.

We encourage reader feedback through reader opinion letters, via comments on our Facebook page and to our staff via email or by phone.

Related Topics: BRAINERD DISPATCH
Matt Erickson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 2000 as a reporter, covering crime and courts and the city of Brainerd. In 2012 he was promoted to night editor and in 2014 was promoted to editor of the newspaper.
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