Wenzel: A conversation about the Herald

Soon, I'll pick up the phone and accept an invitation to lunch from a reader who wants to tell me what I'm missing in my life without bridge -- the card game. Those are her actual words.

Soon, I'll pick up the phone and accept an invitation to lunch from a reader who wants to tell me what I'm missing in my life without bridge - the card game. Those are her actual words.

I'm not sure she'll convince me about bridge, but I look forward to the conversation.

Her letter arrived early this week after she and I had discussions the past month about the merits of her pastime, and especially the Herald's decision to discontinue the daily bridge column we published for years.

Her argument was strong, and she understood when I asked her to give me time to consider a possible solution. Eventually, her logic and willingness to have a true discussion was convincing enough that we last week resumed a bridge column - albeit only Tom Rand's column on Mondays. A friend from the Rotary Club played a part, too.

A Monday-only column isn't exactly what they want, but it's a reasonable compromise, I figure.


So the reader and I will have lunch. She'll tell me about bridge and I'll ask her what she thinks about the community, the state of the Herald and how the Herald can serve her as a reader.

This should happen more often. Who else wants to sit and visit about the Herald?

Service clubs? Morning coffee groups? Bridge players?

It's a conversation we are willing to have, but we prefer that it's a real conversation with people who understand that all industries change - and yes, even the newspaper industry.

We know people have questions, comments and concerns. For example, here's a note from this week's mailbag:

Reader (initials W.C.): "I cannot believe what you have turned this newspaper into. It is so pathetic."

Response: As noted in this space in the past, fast-moving downward trends in national advertising have pushed newspapers nationwide to make changes and adapt. It's not unique to Grand Forks.

W.C.: "You have cut the size of the paper by two-thirds but have not reduced the price.


Response: Actually, that’s not entirely true. Newshole has been cut by about 18 percent -- sometimes a bit more, sometimes less -- on a monthly basis. And while we didn’t reduce the price, the Herald hasn’t raised its subscription rates in years despite constant increases in inflation, newsprint and supply costs, compensation associated with the region’s low unemployment rate and so forth.

W.C.: "Several weeks ago, you ran the same comic section two days in a row."

Response: Uh, yeah. That's true. We are sorry about that.

Another reader (L.O.) wrote the following:

L.O.: "I am angered at what has become of the Herald. The last straw is the bridge column. As far as news, the only thing worth reading is USA Today."

Response: We appreciate the comment about the USA Today section. Interestingly, we have received many complaints about it, too. It's fascinating that some people love it and others loathe it.

L.O.: "Forget about local news. It is a day or two late."

Response: We have reduced our news staff over the past 24 months, but our reporters are still tasked with producing strong local content. We had nine stories in Wednesday's edition, 11 Tuesday, 11 Sunday, 12 Saturday and nine Friday. Monday wasn't so great, with five stories. People do take days off, and it is summer vacation season.


Actually, I'm proud of our local production lately, and the numbers above don't include our regular editorials or the many local briefs (short stories of just a few paragraphs that are still locally pertinent) published throughout the Herald each day.

One last letter - this one from C.E.

C.E.: "This is our 70th year for our daily Herald. We started in 1946 or '47 in Michigan, N.D., when it was delivered after school. ... Good paper all these years. Thank you."

Response: Actually, thank you, C.E. We appreciate your note more than you can imagine.

Would you or your group like to talk about the Herald? We're happy to have that conversation. And it's very possible the publisher of the newspaper himself would come visit your group to answer your questions.

Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Herald since 2014. He can be reached at 701-780-1103 or .

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