The Dickinson Press will become a weekly publication in March, and The Bismarck Tribune will begin printing the newspaper.
Fargo-based Forum Communications, which owns the Press, announced plans on Monday to reduce the paper from printing five days to once a week on Wednesdays, beginning March 4. The Press building eventually will be put up for sale. The paper will focus on online news.
“The printed newspaper has been a historical method of conveying news and information. However, as the demand for news and information continues to change with technology we are required to change and adapt as well,” Aaron Becher, Forum Communications’ vice president of newspapers, said in a story on The Dickinson Press website announcing the change.
It’s unclear if any staff layoffs will result. Becher did not immediately return an email from the Tribune seeking comment.
Tribune Publisher Gary Adkisson welcomed the opportunity to offer printing and production services to the Press.
“In my two years at the Tribune we have spent around a half million dollars updating our physical plant and production equipment so that we would be prepared for these opportunities as they arise,” he said.
Adkisson said the Tribune also will meet with a few western North Dakota publications that are Dickinson print clients. It’s unclear how many publications stand to be affected by the Press changes, but the Williston Herald is among them.
“We are exploring all our options,” Herald Publisher Kelly Miller said.
Several southwestern North Dakota newspapers — two of them saved from closure in early December — also are Press print clients.
GS Publishing owner Jill Friesz bought the Hettinger-based Adams County Record and the New England-based Herald after the papers’ Oregon-based owner announced their closure, along with that of the Dunn County Herald, in Killdeer. Her outfit also owns the Grant County News and Carson Press.
Friesz estimates about 10,000 people read the four papers, which are printed in Dickinson. She plans to visit with Adkisson and Garrison-based BHG Inc. about future printing options. She’s also visited with other newspaper colleagues about printer options across the state.
“I’ll wait and see until I meet with these people and then I guess we’ll go from there,” Friesz said. She was given a late February end date for printing in Dickinson.
North Dakota Newspaper Association Executive Director Steve Andrist said he doesn’t see the Press changes as “a harbinger of a significant movement towards the large-scale loss of newspapers” in southwestern North Dakota.
“It’s a realization that technology changes the way we do business, and I think ... the important thing is we preserve journalism in communities, and Stark County is going to continue to have journalism,” Andrist said.
Three counties in North Dakota have no newspapers: Dunn, Sioux and Slope. No one has stepped in to reopen the Killdeer newspaper, Andrist said. The paper closed Nov. 29.
The Dunn County Commission on Dec. 4 designated the neighboring Beulah Beacon as the county’s official newspaper for publishing legal and public notices.