Updated: Forum Communications enters deal for Brainerd area newspapers
By Dave Olson
Forum News Service
FARGO – Forum Communications Co. has entered into an agreement to purchase newspaper properties in the lakes country of north-central Minnesota – including the Brainerd Dispatch.
The deal is to be completed Jan. 1.
Forum Communications Co. is purchasing the properties from Morris Communications, a media company based in Augusta, Ga.
Before the latest deal, Forum Communications Co. properties included nine daily newspapers and more than 20 community newspapers.
Forum Communications Co. is based in Fargo and publishes The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
Other FCC properties include: a radio station and a TV station in Fargo and TV stations in Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks, N.D.; and commercial printing operations in Fargo and Duluth, Red Wing and Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Forum Communications also has a digital media division and is the owner of Forum News Service.
“Our company is pleased to acquire the Brainerd newspaper and its affiliated publications,” said Bill Marcil Sr., chairman of Forum Communications Co.
“The (Brainerd) market is an ideal fit for our regional media presence, including our Internet sites, commercial printing operations and the Minnesota resort marketing opportunities with our newspapers and websites in Alexandria, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji and Park Rapids,” Marcil added.
Tim Bogenschutz, publisher of the Brainerd Dispatch, said there was excitement at the paper Thursday after the deal was announced.
“Everybody was really happy to have somebody to work with that is close by and understands newspapering in the Midwest, which they (Forum Communications) certainly do,” Bogenschutz said.
“I think the whole thing is going to be a real good marriage,” Bogenschutz added.
In addition to the Brainerd Dispatch, the deal includes a number of other operations, including the Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes, Minn., and a commercial printing operation that prints more than two dozen weekly newspapers.
According to online historical sources, the Brainerd Dispatch published its first edition in December 1881.
The paper changed hands several times early on and, in 1883, it went from being a weekly paper to a daily paper.
That same year, the Brainerd City Council voted to make the paper the city’s official newspaper, a tradition that was not interrupted until the year 1907, when a fire destroyed the building that housed the newspaper.
The owners of the paper purchased a different building in Brainerd, and that location has been home to the Dispatch ever since.
According to 2010 Census numbers, Brainerd’s population is about 13,590.
The history of the Brainerd Dispatch is closely tied to the history of Brainerd itself, which became organized as a municipality in 1873 and was incorporated as a city in November 1881.
The city was named by a railroad official, John Gregory Smith, in honor of his wife, Anne, whose maiden name was Brainerd.