Tricounty News

A new look, and so much more

Two big announcements

1) We have redesigned the entire newspaper. It has been many years since we did a total re-design of the newspaper, and now is a good time for another. Not that there was anything wrong with the old design. But it is time for something fresh and new (and, we feel, even better). It’s not completely final yet. Nothing is set in stone; with a newspaper, nothing ever is, really. We will continue to make tweaks and minor adjustments in the coming weeks and months.

The primary goal of the redesign is to make things even easier to find. Clean, crisp, simple. In conjunction with the design improvements, we will continue to work to tighten up the news in our paper. No need for a half-page boring mass of gray words on a page when the pertinent information can be relayed more succinctly.

The full-page photo feature on page one is gone, a bit reluctantly. In its place will be the most important stories and photos of the week; these stories will continue inside the paper, clearly marked. This gives exposure to more of what’s going on in our communities at a glance. We’ can better focus now on the stories and the great photos that accompany them. And we can now showcase more of them on page one.

2) There will be no more separate edition called “Eden Valley-Watkins News.” Just over a year ago, we started the Eden Valley-Watkins News edition of the Tri-County News. This was shortly after the Journal-Patriot ceased publication, and about six months before the Paynesville Press started its Eden Valley-Watkins Voice

In hindsight, it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. We had no way of knowing then that Paynesville would start a new newspaper, let alone that its name would be so close to the one we used. We thought the confusion for readers and for the communities would improve in time, but it has only worsened.

As the “Tri-County News” there should be no confusing us with anyone else. We are what and who we are and have been: the Tri-County News.

For the 700 or so subscribers who specifically requested the Eden Valley-Watkins News edition, we believe our new format is even better than a separate issue. You won’t miss a thing. In fact, we’ll be able to get even more Eden
Valley and Watkins news (and Kimball and South Haven and Kingston news) into the new format. And you’ll be able to find and read it more easily.

The content is the same, only the packaging has changed. It was, after all, only the packaging that differentiated one edition from the other in the past. Focusing our efforts on a single, great issue each week will save us time and money, both of which can be freed up to produce more and better content.

The packaging of the news each week is important, but the changes we’re making are more than skin deep. By not spending time finding and formatting a second set of front and back pages, we can focus more on the actual news inside. It’s good for us AND it’s good for you.

Who we are

The Tri-County News was founded in 1948 by Phyllis and Clayton Greely following in a long tradition of newspapers since the first settlers in Maine Prairie Township nearly 150 years ago. Phyllis continued as publisher long after Clayton’s death, an accomplishment for a woman that was rare until recent years. When Phyllis retired in 1995, the business was sold first to one newspaper and then to another. Since January 2001 it has been owned and published by Jean Doran Matua, a Kimball alumna.

Our current full-time staff includes Matua as editor and publisher, layout, writer, bookkeeper, and more. Maxine Doran types and formats all the text that goes into the paper each week, she maintains the subscription lists, and uploads stories and photos to our website. Stephanie Johnson is the glue that keeps us together and running, she is our communications hub for news and ads, tirelessly keeping the flow of work moving smoothly; she also painstakingly processes all the photos we use in the paper and online.

In addition, we have a number of individuals who contribute in other important ways. Sue Hughes has many years of professional experience designing ads and retouching photos; it is her beautiful and striking ads that have won us many of our annual newspaper awards. Marguerite Laabs is a professional photographer whose stunning photos fill our papers each week. Aaron Laabs, Margie’s
son, is a recent addition to our staff; in the National Guard, Aaron will work with advertisers on the best ways to promote their services. Mike Nistler is another
Kimball alum with decades of writing and publishing experience, including writing the history books on Watkins and Eden
Valley and, more recently, publishing Minnesota Moments magazine. Pat Garry is a retired teacher and a very skilled writer as well. Terry Nelson is one of our drivers who go to Sauk Centre each Wednesday morning to pick up and then deliver our printed newspapers. Megan Bisila is a KAHS senior who proofreads our copy each week and is learning to be a copy editor.

Together, we work hard each week to bring you the very best package of local news and information that we can.

What we do

The Tri-County News is our only business. It is not one of several business ventures, and it’s not something that was tacked on to another newspaper or enterprise. It IS what we do.

Our job is to provide news and advertising to our readers.

Our other job is to promote local businesses in the communities we serve. In readership surveys we took this past spring and summer, 96 percent of our readers want MORE ads; they read them all. This is great news for us, and even more so for our advertisers. People are reading your ads, and they want even more.

We aim to keep a positive tone. While bad news happens, we certainly don’t revel in it, nor do we go out of our way to seek it out. But we don’t hide from it either; we wouldn’t be a newspaper if we did that. Finding balance can be difficult, but we strive for balance in all that we do. 

Why we do it

From its beginning 65 years ago, the Tri-County News has brought you news that relates to our corner of the world. Today more than ever, what happens in one community impacts us all. What’s good or bad for one, is good or bad for everyone. 

Some still subscribe to the isolationist theory, that those invisible walls between towns should be maintained at all cost, and that what is inside those walls is good and everything beyond them is bad. This never was true, but holding to these beliefs now, we believe, will doom each of our communities to oblivion. Even 50 years ago, isolationism wasn’t a good idea. 

Our goal is to enlighten and uplift all within our readership area which, incidentally, is not limited by zip code or any other boundary. Each week we bring you news that affects you or your neighbors directly, plus a few other things you might be interested in. There is much more going on in any of our communities than simply school news or sports, and we try to bring you a balanced array of information. Not everything will apply or appeal to every reader, but there is always plenty to choose from.

Amid reports of newspapers going the way of the dinosaur, small-town newspapers are thriving. We are thriving. You are thriving.

No one does local like we (small-town newspapers) can!

We are deeply grateful for our local readers and our advertisers. We like to encourage gratitude which is why, for instance, we stopped charging for “thank yous” in the paper years ago. We express our gratitude in a number of ways: no charge for thank yous, no charge for birth announcements, no charge for obituaries, no charge to access our award-winning news website (including the archives of 15,000+ stories from the past 13 years), free classified ads for subscribers, well over 12,000 free trial copies of the paper sent out in the past year and a half, and so much more. 

We take our role providing an essential community service very seriously. And we take your confidence in us very seriously as well. 

We want you to be proud of your hometown newspaper! This is what keeps us going week after week.

So, what happens now?

Our new design is fairly well set, and will continue to be polished in the coming weeks. We hope you like the new packaging and the new product itself. Let us know how we’re doing. After all, we’re doing it for you our readers, and you our advertisers.

The PLUS edition, on the third Thursday of each month (except January), will continue as it has for a few years now. It is in essence the same as the Tri-County News but packaged a little differently and mailed out to non-subscribers.

If you are not a current subscriber but received this issue in our broadcast mailing, we invite you to renew or subscribe. (There is a subscription form on page 26, for your convenience.) While much of our content is on our website each week, not all of it is. And you can’t cut out a photo from the website and post it on the refrigerator; it’s just not the same!

We will continue to make improvements to our website. There is much more that we can do there, and we will continue to create new things there as we’re able to do them well.

Our focus will continue to be our print news product, the Tri-County News. We’re excited about all the changes, they’re all good. We hope and trust that you enjoy them, too!