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​Our Opinion: Whew! We made it this far, but we had a lot of help!

by John Strand | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | September 5th, 2018

Knights in action at the 2018 Renaissance Festival - photograph by C.S. Hagen

Odds were stacked against survival for The Little Newspaper That Could from Day One. But here it is, 24 years later, and the High Plains Reader still plays a vital role in the culture and fabric of our local and greater communities.

Happy Birthday, HPR!

There’s no greater testimony to the value of a local newsweekly such as the Reader than to simply note its storied journey over the years. HPR no doubt has evolved to become the people’s paper. It’s not a big conglomerate enterprise; it’s local and home grown. It’s not lofty and highfalutin; it’s down to earth and relevant.

The Reader was created by some forward thinking college students in 1994 who were on the campus of the University of North Dakota. They began with a black-and-white 16-page tabloid newspaper that focused on the culture of downtown Grand Forks, especially.

Just after the second year, ownership transitioned, and just after that the historic Flood of 1997 decimated what was the paper’s advertising base there. That’s when HPR moved its home base to Fargo.

To our knowledge, it’s been several decades since any other newcomer newspaper to Fargo lasted more than a couple years. HPR defied those odds. Even today, in light of national trends, print media giving way to digital platforms, the Reader is still alive and kicking.

That’s because it’s relevant.

Were we to calculate how many pages, how many feature stories, how many opinion pieces, how many investigative works, how many photographs have been created in the past 24 years, we’d all be astonished. Drop by drop makes the inundation.

Further, if we simply think of how many names and faces, how many bands, musicians, artists, chefs and aspiring people were embedded into pages of HPR, we’d be astonished.

Then, on top of that, there’s been an army of people involved in this endeavor. Countless writers, volunteers, contributors, columnists have seen their byline in the High Plains Reader.

We cannot count the number of times people from other cities or states have commented on HPR and lamented they did not have such a newspaper in their own community. That said, many have tried, and still, it’s the HPR that persists while they’ve fallen by the wayside. The difference? Heart.

We’ve been fortunate to draw into our fold amazingly talented people who love the cause and believe in the mission to foster and create a more lively, vibrant community for all. Their voice mattered. They had a place they fit in. They helped make a difference.

Our general estimates are that HPR reaches approximately 25,000 readers per week. That’s pretty astounding when you look at our population. We average 20 pages each week. We deliver nearly 12,000 papers every Thursday to well over 400 locations. Our advertisers make this possible; were it not for them, there would be no HPR. Please support -- and thank -- them.

Looking forward, of course change is inevitable. Yet we have the best team we’ve ever had. We are reinventing and always tweaking our business model so as to be viable in these vastly changing times. You, our readers, of course, are part of this. After all, this is the people’s paper and it’s always been given to you for free.

Please join us in acknowledging this 24th anniversary milestone on September 8. While we are beaming with pride, we also have work to do such as putting out the next issue. Nonetheless, it’s a big stepping stone, one of many, on a really significant journey that makes an impact week in and week out.

Thanks to everyone who’s been part of this journey over the past nearly quarter century. Special thanks to our current staff, contributors, volunteers and advertisers. HPR is indeed in good hands and no doubt keeps good company.

Happy Birthday, HPR. The Little Newspaper That Could is a remarkable example of heart and vision, hard work and voice, and thanks to all of you Reader readers for years past and present.

Here’s to you, HPR! 

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