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Commentary: Back in the saddle again

Michael Johnson

Yes, I'm back.

Back to the area I've known for much of my life. Back to a career I've stepped away from a time or two, but back and ready nonetheless to tell the stories of people that need their story told and heard.

Who am I? Most people know me from a humble little sweet corn stand north of Verndale, but I was recently named the community editor for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, a position I am excited to take on. I thank Paula Quam, former editor of the PJ and current publisher Jason Miller for trusting me to take on the editorial department.

In the past six months I've been reporting for two of Forum Communications papers including the Wadena Pioneer Journal and the Perham Focus newspapers. While there I had the pleasure of working with Quam, an ever curious person, always excited to hear about a story idea from the community. I also worked with numerous other newspaper people that care deeply about providing a product that informs, educates and entertains the community. Before that I was working for another Forum property, the Brainerd Dispatch as community editor. There's some fine people over there as well that taught me a lot about running the "bullpen," or open editorial department on a busy newsnight.

It's surprising I would ever want to be in the middle of a bullpen, considering my farming background. As a youngster I learned very early that the bull pen is about the last place you want to be, much like the wrong side of a pinch point and the floor of the hog pen.

Well I can say this is a place I want to be. This is no metropolitan area. Hunting and fishing are a short jaunt away. You don't have to go far to escape what bustle there is. There is a vibrant faith community. People are generally caring, open to talk about the issues of their lives. Many still support the community newspaper when it covers the topics that matter. Readers look to us to shed light onto dark places, and highlight the joys of life.

I want our readers to feel that they can be a part of this newspaper and that their voice can be heard. I look forward to getting to know the community more and continue to share stories that I hope will engage the community and draw us all closer together.

Feel free to contact me at or at 218-631-2561.