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A brave new world?

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The printed newspaper is dead - at least, that is what the latest headlines in national publications seem to suggest.

While it's generally true that advertising revenue is declining nationwide for newspapers, news organizations are trying to recapture that ad revenue with their Web sites.

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Detroit Lakes Newspapers isn't a stranger to the changes affecting the industry.

"I don't think that print is ever going to be dead," said Detroit Lakes Newspapers publisher Dennis Winskowski.

He said that even with his outlook, studies indicate that a significant number of readers aged 18 to 45 will get their news online.

"Ultimately I think people will receive the information when they want it, through their cell phone, PC at work or at home," Winskowsi said.

But people have to have a reason to come to the newspaper's Web site (DL-Online.com) and Winskowski said the newspaper provides information that readers can't get anywhere else.

"Our initiative is to provide the local content for Detroit Lakes," Winskowski said. "I think we're in a better position that anyone else so that we become the go-to place for these people as they turn to the written word."

The online future isn't necessarily rosy. Newspapers around the country still haven't found a way to make the Web as profitable as the print product.

"It is starting to come around a bit," said Detroit Lakes Newspapers Editor Nathan Bowe. "It's morale-boosting for us to put a lot of work into the news side when we see are actually seeing some revenue coming out of it."

Right now, though, it's anyone's guess on how that lost revenue will be made up. Bowe said that even with the uncertainty surrounding online content, an effort still needs to be made.

"Nobody knows for sure, so we have to have a presence in print and online," Bowe said. "And try to do as well as we can in both."

Unlike a traditional newspaper, online revenue is based on advertising only instead of subscription fees.

Winskowski admits that his view of how to make money online is different from conventional thinking.

"I'm perhaps on the outside edge of this one, but we have to figure out how to collect for our content," he said. "And ultimately we will, because in many, many markets, the newspapers that are collecting content now will cease to exist, especially in your major cities where so many other factors come into play.

"If they don't figure out how to charge for content, they will go out of business and at that particular point, somebody will provide content that will get paid for."

One method of getting people to pay for content is through premium services, since Winskowski doesn't think people will pay just for access to the latest stories. He compares it to the satellite TV industry.

"When they first started sending that signal out and announced they were going to charge for it, everyone was up in arms and said they weren't going to buy it," Winskowski said. "Now they are paying for it and feeling good about it."

Besides replicating what's in the printed version of the newspaper, Detroit Lakes Newspapers is trying to fill a niche with video and audio content.

A recently launched daily newscast and a weekly entertainment guide hope to provide information in a new form.

Instead of relying just on stories that are DL-specific, the Web cast also takes stories from other Forum Communications newspapers to provide regional coverage.

Other features will be rolled out in the feature in hopes of luring readers and making DL-Online.com a leading source of information online, at least locally.

To that end, the newspaper has hired a half-time online reporter (that would be me) a full-time online advertising sales representative (Dave Hammes) and an online production specialist (Alycia Jenson).

Since Detroit Lakes Newspapers doesn't subscribe to the Associated Press, the other newspapers in the 30-newspaper chain provide regional news online that area residents would not ordinarily get from the printed newspaper.

The Web has changed the news cycle away from a twice-weekly format. Now daily updates are the norm, and the news cycle isn't even confined to a once-a-day format.

If any news breaks during the day, an update can be posted in seconds.

It's a different mindset for reporters to deliver that news daily, at least in Detroit Lakes.

"You can basically become a daily if there is something going on," Bowe said.

No one knows what the future of newspapers is going to be down the road, but Winskowski has a vision for what needs to happen for Detroit Lakes Newspapers to be successful.

"Five years ago, we didn't think we'd be where we are today," Winskowski said. "It's hard to envision (the future).We want to be a player in Detroit Lakes.

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