New Bismarck newspaper launches

BISMARCK—A Bismarck native has launched a new newspaper in this city with a goal to provide more investigative and in-depth local news.

Matt Bunk, 32, is editor and publisher of the Great Plains Examiner, available in print and online. After working as a reporter and editor in several states, he said he became frustrated with the way that corporate newspapers operate.

“A lot of times, the editors and publishers … often they’re just trying to find something to sell ads around. They don’t really care what it is, and the last thing they want to do is make anybody upset,” Bunk said.

“I believe that the whole purpose of newspapers and journalists is to make people upset, to make people think, show them what’s going on behind the scenes and sometimes it’s not pretty.”

The newspaper will focus heavily on political and business news in Bismarck-Mandan but will also feature people stories, he said. The paper will publish once a month, but will be updated frequently online at www.greatplainsexaminer.com.

Both the newspaper and website access are free, with about 10,000 papers distributed throughout Bismarck-Mandan. There is also a mailing list of about 1,300 people, Bunk said. He’s looking at adding news racks in Beulah and Wilton, as well as other surrounding cities.

The paper is not affiliated with other Examiner media organizations or with a political party. The Great Plains Examiner is tabloid size and does not include content from the Associated Press. There are about a dozen people involved with the operation, including writers, investors and distributors.

Writers include Fargo freelancer Sarah McCurdy, former Bismarck Tribune columnist Kelly Hagen and Minnesota State University Moorhead history professor Steve Hoffbeck.

Bunk said friends approached him about 10 years ago to start a newspaper in Bismarck and offered to provide funding. He decided to take them up on the offer now after looking at the Bismarck market and thinking there was an opening for the kind of journalism that he likes to do.

“I’m talking about more investigative journalism, more in-depth looks at some of the most important issues that are going on in a community,” he said. “I like to hold public officials accountable for their actions and what they do. I didn’t see that being done the way I like to do it here in Bismarck.”

When asked for comment on the new newspaper, Bismarck Tribune Publisher Brian Kroshus sent the following statement:

“The field of journalism, while challenging, is indeed rewarding and it’s a privilege to serve the public,” he said. “I know our employees take great pride in what they do on a daily basis, and I’m sure their staff will feel the same with their new venture.”

McCurdy said Bunk is energetic and passionate about what he does. She said it’s going to be fun to see how the newspaper moves forward.

“I think the newspaper is creating some buzz,” she said. “People are talking about it, and that’s what you want.”

Hagen said he’s proud to play a part in providing Bismarck-Mandan with this new alternative.

“It’s locally owned and operated, and I think we’re going to live up to that and represent the community as best we can,” he said. “It’ll be local stories told by local writers. We aren’t the property of an out-of-state corporation.”

It’s been several years since a new newspaper launched in North Dakota, said Roger Bailey, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

The Lake Metigoshe Mirror in Bottineau is now in its seventh year and has been successful, he said.

“It (starting a newspaper) doesn’t happen too often this day and age, but I think it does indicate that it is a sign of a healthy situation,” Bailey said. “Newspapers aren’t dying. We’re still thriving in different forms, of course, in addition to the print product.”

Bunk said he’s in the process of finding office space. The paper now prints in Mitchell, S.D., but he’s looking for a North Dakota printer. The paper will come out around the first of each month and can be mailed upon request for the cost of postage.

Bunk said he knows he’s going against the grain of the newspaper industry by starting a print paper, but he’s determined to make a go of it.

“I haven’t totally given up on newspapers yet. I don’t think this community has totally given up on newspapers, either,” he said. “I think the good ones will survive.”

Bunk can be reached at 701-645-1270.

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