At a recent local job fair, a woman walked past a table with a Brainerd Dispatch sign. She stopped, looked at the table, and said, “Brainerd Dispatch … I really miss you in the morning.”

Standing behind that table, I was caught off guard by her comment.

“Excuse me?” I asked her.

“I used to love reading the Dispatch newspaper six mornings a week when it was delivered to my home,” she explained. “And now it’s only delivered two days a week. I really miss it.”

Her comment referred to a Forum Communications Co. change in July of 2020 where the Dispatch print editions were reduced from six days a week to twice weekly (midweek and weekend publications) with digital newspaper editions still produced six days a week. Forum Communications owns the Brainerd Dispatch.

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I told her I understand her feelings as a newspaper reader for more than a half century myself.

“I still love reading the printed editions,” I said, “but I’ve also learned to navigate and now enjoy reading the digital editions each morning.”

Many things are different in our lives with changing demands — and the newspaper industry is no different. Our twice weekly print editions have expanded coverage, like extra Sudoku puzzles, special sections plus extra features like local athletes of the week. We can also offer some of the latest news and sports coverage in our print editions with later deadlines since we still have a printing plant in our Dispatch building and most of our newspapers are still delivered by carriers.

But the biggest changes are in the way we present digital news. It helped many years ago that newspapers were one of the first to create and manage online news coverage. Besides our printed editions, we publish the brainerddispatch.com and pineandlakes.com websites, digital newspaper replicas (e-papers) for the Dispatch and Echo Journal, a Dispatch web and e-edition app for phones and tablets, plus daily podcasts, videos, image galleries, email newsletters and social media channels.

We know many readers miss the newspaper industry’s traditional business model. But our approach is to provide coverage that is more expansive, especially with breaking news alerts. We know it’s what our customers expect when they purchase a membership with the Dispatch or the Echo Journal. We send out alerts to members when we post our most important news and sports. We also have podcasts Monday through Friday featuring the top news stories of the day.

We know our readers expect print and digital 24/7 coverage of the top stories, like a tragic shooting death of a woman at an area resort, or enterprising coverage like an ICU doctor sharing their story about treating COVID-19 patients or lighter features about “lights in the sky — satellites or UFOs.” These are three examples of our top viewed stories in 2021.

We are embracing a digital-first approach to news coverage. That’s where our website, our e-edition and our social media feeds come in as we’re able to instantly post news for our readers. For many years, brainerddispatch.com has been the area’s top website — averaging more than 20.1 million annual views. We also appreciate the growing interest in our e-editions, which average almost 285,000 views weekly.

We appreciate the loyalty of our members and your belief in the value of community journalism. We’re working hard every day to bring the stories that matter most to you.

We believe journalism is vital for communities like ours to hold elected officials accountable, the public informed and all of us connected. We hope you agree and will support community journalism by purchasing a digital or combo membership, with print and digital, to the Brainerd Dispatch and PineandLakes Echo Journal.

Consider joining us with a digital subscription that allows unlimited access not only to Dispatch and Echo Journal content, but content throughout the Forum Communications Co. network. Check out the latest offers at brainerddispatch.com/subscribe or pineandlakes.com/subscribe.