Regional newspapers – including dailies in Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Crookston and Minot – adapt to the times

Newspapers across the region, including the Herald, are making changes to adapt to the changing industry. (Herald file photo)

From dropping editions to utilizing paywalls for online content, some area newspapers are making changes to their business model as they adapt to changing times.

In recent months, newspapers in Crookston and Minot have dropped at least one of their publication days. In Devils Lake, the Journal soon will drop from a five-day daily to three print publication days per week.

In August 2018, the Grand Forks Herald eliminated the print version of its Monday edition. This week, the Herald – and other Forum Communications Co. newspapers – instituted a paywall, meaning non-subscribers who regularly come to FCC websites will be prompted to pay to read stories.

“To me, it is finally realizing that people should pay for our content,” said Korrie Wenzel, publisher of the Herald. “This company is going to go forward realizing that content is king. … That really is the best way to go, and I think our company saw that.”

In Devils Lake, the Journal has announced that on Sept. 23, it will drop to printing three days a week, according to news editor Louise Oleson. She said she believes the paper will still offer daily content online.


“I’m optimistic," Oleson said. "I guess I feel it could be a positive thing, especially for me. Besides a sports reporter, I’m the only person in the newsroom, so it makes a difference when you have a small newsroom.”

The same goes for the Crookston Times, which went from a daily paper to two days a week in May. The Times continues to publish news and stories online every day. The combination of subscriptions and digital communication taking the lead over print led to the decision, according to Mike Christopherson, managing editor of the Times.

The Times has a paywall in place for its online content.

“Here it is Friday, and we don’t have a print edition, but we’ve been sitting here loading up our website and social media all morning because the news doesn’t stop, the sports don’t stop,” said Christopherson.

He noted that feedback has been good on the two print editions per week. The editions now are larger and thicker than the previous daily editions.

On Sept. 7, the Minot Daily News combined its Saturday and Sunday editions into a single Saturday edition, as it morphed into a six-day-a-week newspaper. The weekend edition is available on newsstands on both days of the weekend, though breaking updates, according to the paper, still will be posted online seven days a week.

Changing reader habits and declining revenue from advertising are the chief reasons that are bringing changes in the industry, Wenzel said. He noted that since March of 2017, a number of the Herald's former top advertisers have closed.

“Sometimes, you know, you can’t beat the Googles of the world. To me, I think it just came down as a necessity,” Wenzel said of the Herald going behind a paywall.


He added that giant online retailer Amazon has been one of the forces in the industry's changes.

“Amazon, we don’t necessarily compete with them directly, but they are eating away at the places that have been great advertising partners for us,” said Wenzel. “The Macy’s of the world, Sears, things like that. Those people are dying because of Amazon, and those were our great sources of revenue for decades.”

When asked if the use of a paywall would negatively affect business, Wenzel responded that he expects a decrease in the Herald's daily viewership on the short term. On some days, more than 50,000 unique visitors read Herald content. Wenzel said that as recently as Saturday, Sept. 14, there were nearly 60,000 unique visitors to

“Naturally, there will be a decrease in unique viewers of our website," he said. "That happens industry-wide, where people see that early on, but then it should build back up as people get the hang of it.”

Wenzel went on to note that the casual viewer can still get six free views of stories per month, though those readers won’t be able to visit the site beyond that to read for free.

Subscriber access

Print subscribers to the Herald who would like to access the online version can visit . There, subscribers can click the “login” button, and after that click the "create an account" button. The next step is to enter an email address and create a password, then click the box that agrees to the terms of use and privacy policy, before clicking the "register" box. Subscribers must verify their physical address in order to access online content.

People who only wish to subscribe to the online edition of the Herald can do the same thing, only they need to provide a form of payment, such as a credit card.

Going forward, subscribers are being called "members" by Forum Communications. Members will have certain benefits, including eligibility for various discounts and events. Activating a membership also will allow a reader access to all newspapers owned by Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.


People experiencing difficulty activating their membership can call the Herald’s Circulation Department at 701-780-1215, or 800-811-1580.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

Desk: 701-780-1110
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