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Hagen: How do you want the news delivered to you?

Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen with an opinion column.

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Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen.

Sometimes I wish I had a more exciting story behind what kickstarted my newspaper career.

I was a junior in high school with an assignment to write a paper on a controversial topic, look at both sides and then make a determination on the subject.

Should Pete Rose be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame?

Seemed like a fun project to dive into, so the research began.

We had months to work on the assignment. I just chipped away here and there and, eventually, pieced together my paper.

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I always enjoyed writing. Finding clear, yet simple descriptive phrases and transferring my thoughts into words was (and still is) a nice puzzle. Like art, a good writer creates beauty from a blank canvas. I got my grade back — a 100.

So, I figured out how to make writing and my love of sports into a career. Sports writing. Before I knew it, I graduated from college and was working for The Daily Republic in Mitchell, South Dakota. Thirteen years later, I’m rooted in this community and love it.

I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about reporters living with newspapers as they grew up. Others literally delivered the paper. Many had family lineage of newspapering. As the old phrase goes, they had “ink in their veins” from the start.

Working for a newspaper takes a special person — reporters, editors, page designers, ad sales, circulation, business managers and everyone in between. It's a daily miracle to assemble a newspaper and share the stories with our community.

I believe anyone who has spent substantial time working for a newspaper feels the same. News never quits, and we’re fully invested in that mentality.

A press release could be sent at 4:58 p.m. on a Friday that delays the start of a reporter’s weekend; a fire breaks out at 2:30 a.m. on a sub-zero temperature winter night; community gatherings on Christmas and Thanksgiving; sporting events across the country and so much more. We want to cover those events, that news. Our readers expect us to be there.

And trust me, we’re as dedicated as ever. The problem that’s standing in our way is the number of avenues available to deliver news and ensure it finds a reader’s eye.

The question we’re trying to solve is, “How do people want to read us?”

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The way news is written hasn’t changed much since I started my career. The story would flow onto a designed page, and then almost 100 percent of our readers would see it in print the following day.

When I was younger and decided on a journalism career path, I figured the print paper would always be the main source of delivering our news because, well, that’s the way it always had been.

But, that’s not the case. And now, our dedication has led to experimentation through multiple news platforms.

Earlier this month, we live-streamed the Mitchell Parade of Lights on our website in addition to streams of sporting events and school board meetings. We’re assembling sports-focused newsletters that feature South Dakota’s best athletes. We have a cool twice weekly podcast that quickly reviews the subjects we’re reporting on. The E-paper, a replica online newspaper, is assembled six times per week. Have you checked those out?

Through the end of the month, we’re running a neat incentive to look closely at the E-paper each day. We’re sporadically placing snowflakes in the online-only editions. Find three snowflakes, write down the dates, send them to us and you’ll be entered to win one of four $50 gift cards to Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Mitchell. Don’t typically read the E-paper? Maybe this is the reason to give it a try, and a way to find more of our news.

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Snowflake ad

Each day, we have loads of quality work from our staff to serve our wonderful readers who allow us to tell our community’s stories. (By the way, I never get tired of saying thank you to our subscribers.)

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When life in the newspaper business is no longer as simple as picking up a printed edition each morning, we need to decipher how our readers come across all of our work.

Somehow, you’ve come across this story of how my newspaper career began. You may have picked up the Wednesday print edition. You may have clicked on this story through social media, or you may have tapped your smartphone’s app and read the E-paper.

Regardless, know that we want feedback on how best to share our work. We need to know how you want the news delivered to you.

Not only did that high school assignment springboard me into this job, it taught me that a little bit of research can go a long way.

— Luke Hagen can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com or 605-996-5514.

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