Talk regarding the supposed death of daily newspapers couldn't be further from the truth, says Tim Bogenschutz, who takes over as publisher of the Brainerd Dispatch on New Year's Day.
"They're not dead," he said. "They aren't even close. Small-town newspapers are not going anywhere. In fact, they're on the up-rise."
Bogenschutz, who had been advertising director of the Dispatch, succeeds Terry McCollough, longtime publisher who retired.
A newspaper advertising veteran, Bogenschutz is keenly aware of the changes the newspaper industry has seen in the last 30 years.
The Brainerd Dispatch brand name, whether it's associated with print news, online content or specialty magazines is what makes the newspaper special, Bogenschutz said. For almost 130 years, he said, the Dispatch has been the most trusted source of news in the Brainerd lakes area. While the news distribution system may change, the Dispatch's investment in a staff of journalists and commitment to local news is what separates it from competitors.
"Somebody still has to generate the news," he said. "Our job is to keep up with the changing times."
While printed newspaper products maintain steady readership, he said, many people prefer other ways of reading the news through mobile devices or our redesigned website. The future of news delivery systems will be decided by news and advertising consumers.
"That will be predicated on what our readers want," he said.
Bogenschutz, a longtime resident of Baxter, said newspaper advertising sales representatives have to be much more nimble than 30 years ago. Big business chains prefer to submit pre-printed inserts as opposed to advertising within the newspaper pages. In the old days, Bogenschutz said, advertising representatives didn't have to work as hard to meet the needs of their clients. Advertisers, he said, used to "drop stuff on our desk."
Now the newspaper advertising staff conducts a needs analysis to identify the right mix of audiences for a business, works to make the cost affordable and comes up with a message that works for its advertisers. Finding advertising models that work go hand in hand with presenting a compelling news product and delivering it to the reader.
"The challenge in today's business climate is 'How can we afford to put out the best local news possible and distribute it the way the reader wants?'" he asked.
A resident of the area since 1979, Bogenschutz enjoys the small-town feel of the newspaper and the feeling of family at the newspaper, where many employees have worked for decades. For 130 years, he noted, the Dispatch has told the stories of everyday life in its community.
He left the Dispatch for about a dozen years and worked as the advertising director for In Fisherman, returning to the Dispatch in May of 2005.
"It felt like I came home," he said of his return to the newspaper.
Employing about 85 people, the Dispatch is among the larger private employers in the Brainerd-Baxter area. Like other businesses, the Dispatch has had to retrench and make layoffs in recent years, but Bogenschutz said the newspaper has been a steady presence in the community.
"We're a very solid, stable community business," Bogenschutz said.
His newspaper career in advertising began at his hometown newspaper, the Albert Lea Tribune. Bogenschutz moved to Brainerd in 1979 as an advertising account representative and subsequently was promoted to sales manager. He said one of the benefits of a career in small town advertising sales has been the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of businesses.
Bogenschutz, 60, has been involved in many civic organizations including service on the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Board for three years. His wife, Nancy, is also involved in civic and church organizations and has run her own wallpaper business for 20-plus years.
He and his wife raised their three daughters, Beth, Sarah and Laura in Baxter. All three were Brainerd High School graduates.
Living in the Brainerd area allows him to enjoy such pastimes as golf, photography and fishing.
"What I love is the outdoors," he said. "I wouldn't leave this area."
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.