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Jana Peterson: Things change, yet stay the same

Francois de la Rochefoucauld said "The only thing constant in life is change." I don't think he was referring specifically to newspapers, but his quotation is particularly apt for this industry. Don't panic. There are no major changes coming in t...

Francois de la Rochefoucauld said "The only thing constant in life is change."

I don't think he was referring specifically to newspapers, but his quotation is particularly apt for this industry.

Don't panic. There are no major changes coming in the Budgeteer. However, there are a number of smaller changes already being implemented, and a few more that I thought I should warn you about.

Most importantly, our columnists. With the exception of Dick Palmer -- a reader told me that Dick "is the Budgeteer" -- they are moving to every other week. Ralph Doty will write one week, Russ Young will write the next. I will write a column one week in the opinion section; Budgeteer reporter Matthew Perrine will write his column the next.

Moving columnists to every other week will open up one spot per week for someone new. A new voice.

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So far I have three new faces who will rotate into that spot. Pete Langr and Eddy Gilmore you've already seen, and I'm hoping to debut the third writer in the Dec. 24 issue. They will write once a month, and I'll keep the fourth spot open for folks who only want to write occasionally.

It is an experiment of sorts. It's a way to keep us from falling into a rut.

And wouldn't it be nice to see fresh faces every once in awhile, younger faces, female faces, maybe even faces of color?

On the subject of columnists, we also moved the business and education columns out of the opinion section and onto pages more relevant to their topic. Duluth public schools Superintendent Keith Dixon's column runs with an education page. Columns by Terry Mattson, David Ross and Kristi Stokes appear with business news and briefs.

I'm also hoping to solicit community columns from a few more organizations. That's all hush-hush for now, but I'm confident it will happen.

This week's issue sees the debut of "A Week in Review," and the third Q-and-A feature, "Getting to know you." I hope it's a feature that allows people to get to know a different side of someone they may have seen in the news before.

In the new year, the Budgeteer will also be undergoing a face lift of sorts. Some type face changes, new section headings, things like that.

Minor changes really, equivalent to a shot of Botox rather than any true surgical procedure.

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I'm excited about the changes. While I think the Budgeteer is a solid product and a secure one, everyone can use the occasional makeover.

I'm also excited about another new part of the Budgeteer -- the first ever Reader Advisory Board. There are six people on the board, which met for the first time Dec. 5.

We lunched, and we talked about the things the Budgeteer does well, and things we could do better. We hashed over old issues -- which were new issues to this non-native newspaper editor -- and we talked about things that are coming to the Northland.

The goal, we concurred, of a community newspaper should be twofold: to inform and entertain.

When informing, we will aim to let people know what's going on early, before an issue gets to the city council, commission or school board vote. That way people who want to get involved can get in on the ground floor of a movement, when they can actually affect where it ultimately ends up.

It's a great theory, but it needs a tremendous amount of community input to succeed.

So I'm asking you to contribute.

Got a news tip, some building project you just got wind of? Heard about a new business in town? Is there some amazing person who never gets noticed for the things he or she does?

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Call me. Or e-mail. I can't promise it will appear in the next issue, but I do promise to take notes. And to do my best to see that your tip gets the attention it deserves.

Don't be shy, Duluthians.

See you in two weeks.

Jana Peterson is the editor of the Budgeteer. She can be reached at 723-1207 or jpeterson@duluthbudgeteer.com .

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