From the Publisher: We're reaching more people in more ways than ever before

The Wadena Pioneer Journal along with has more readers now than ever in the history of the newspaper—including the glory days of the PJ and the Intercom.

Wadena Pioneer Journal paper.jpg
Melissa Swenson is the publisher of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal.
File photo

WADENA — As the publisher of three newspapers, the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal, it is frustrating when I hear someone say that newspapers are dying — that no one reads the newspapers anymore, or that advertising with the newspaper doesn’t give you as much bang for your buck as it did in the good old days. None of those things are true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Melissa Swenson
Melissa Swenson, publisher of the Wadena Pioneer Journal, Perham Focus and Detroit Lakes Tribune.
File photo

The Wadena Pioneer Journal paper along with has more readers now than ever in the history of the newspaper—including the glory days of the PJ and the Intercom. has reached 516,187 people in the United States in the past 12 months. Yes, you read that number right. That equates to more than 43,000 different people a month. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you add in the power of all of Forum Communications digital offerings, the sky's the limit as to how many people you want to reach—we are the leader when it comes to delivering digital information to the region.

We are also reaching more people, in more age groups than ever before. Google Analytics for shows that over 19% of our readers are aged 55-64, just under 19% are 45-54 and 35-44, just over 18%—25-34, 65+ 15% and 18-24 come in at just over 10% of our online readership. Our print readership skews towards the higher aged demographic.

I have been in the newspaper business for more than 22 years. In that time, I have been a witness to so much change! I am so grateful to work for a company that got in front of those changes early and started investing heavily in our digital platforms as well as our content. Forum Communications is at the cutting edge when it comes to delivering news and information in a timely fashion to its readers. Yet, we are having a difficult time connecting the old with the new, the print with the digital, and conveying the importance of local journalism in our communities.

It’s no secret that many newspapers have gone by the wayside in the past 10 years. COVID has added more closures at an alarming rate. Most have been small weekly newspapers—which is devastating for the communities that have lost them.


In a recent article from the Poynter Institute, when communities lose their local newspaper, they also lose transparency and accountability with their local governments. Research shows that taxes go up and voter participation goes down. Afterall, who else attends your city council and school board meetings? Who digests that information and presents it in a clear manner to keep the public informed?

The print version of the Wadena Pioneer Journal now has a lower page count than in times past. We no longer have the space to include every press release sent to us. We make every effort to fill our news hole with content that matters and is relevant for our weekly print readers. But the good news in all of that is we have unlimited room on and since we have more online readers than print readers (many read both) the information is getting out to the public. Just in a different way.

Whether you support us with your advertising dollars, purchase a membership, or buy a copy of the PJ on newsstands, we are grateful to those of you who have stuck with us through this journey of change. Your investment helps to promote the community of Wadena and the surrounding area by supporting the work that we do. We thank you.

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