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From the publisher: An explanation of our obituary changes

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Thank you to all of our readers for your loyal support of the West Central Tribune. I also compliment our readers for taking the time to share your concerns about the change in how we publish obituary information in the West Central Tribune.

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I would like to share with you the steps that led up to our decision, and while that may not change your opinion of the change, I hope that it at the very least explains our rationale.

Our newspaper is owned by a regional communications company named Forum Communications Co., based in Fargo, N.D. Our parent company also owns more than 30 newspapers across four states, which means that historically we've had more than 30 sites creating individual policies regarding the publication of obituary information. As you can imagine, that creates some challenges when you are trying to operate a company as a network of information providers.

As times passes, our company -- just as any other company -- develops more efficient and standardized ways of doing business, whether that's a new way of processing payroll or a new way of delivering statements ... or in this case a new way of handling the publication of obituary information.

And sometimes for the good of the entire company, the West Central Tribune is asked to change local practices that, while they effect our readers, they also allow for seamless business practices across our network. The changing of how we publish obituary information happens to be one of these new practices and this is one of those times we've been asked to transform what we do for the betterment of the whole.

In addition, it probably will come as no surprise to you that our newspaper industry is changing. There are increasing demands on our resources, as well as our time. Our previous method of publishing obituary information was time intensive. The information for one obituary could appear in our newspaper multiple times in multiple fashions and sometimes required the attention of a staff member for several days. When you multiply that time spent by multiple obituaries, the time spent handling the information added up to a significant number. We simply couldn't continue to do business the same way we always did and so we developed a new process that was more efficient but still served the needs of our readers.

These explanations obviously don't diminish the importance of our readers concern over the change in our publication; however, nor does it change the fact that the new policy will stay in effect. As a valued loyal customers, though, we felt you deserved an explanation regarding the change.

We value you as a customer, and recognize that some of you may be unhappy with the recent change. However, we still believe that the content and advertising contained in our newspaper is extremely valuable to our customers' lives. We hope that you still do too.

Steve Ammermann is publisher of the West Central Tribune of Willmar. He can be reached at:

sammermann@wctrib.com or (320) 235-1150.

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