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Dave Olson, Published December 03 2012

Investor group to refocus small Bismarck paper on Oil Patch

BISMARCK – The Great Plains Examiner, a monthly newspaper that began operating in Bismarck and Mandan about a year and a half ago, has suspended publishing while a new ownership arrangement is finalized.

Matt Bunk, the editor and publisher of the paper, said once the deal is completed he will remain an owner of the paper but no longer have control over day-to-day operations.

Gary Emineth, a businessman and former chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, said he and a small group of new investors in the paper plan to expand its coverage to other parts of the state, particularly the Oil Patch.

“Today, the Great Plains Examiner is focused on Bismarck-Mandan,” he said. “We’re looking at how we can expand to other parts of the state and still keep it local.”

Emineth said eastern North Dakota is not on their radar, as “Bismarck and west” will be the focus.

The paper did not publish in November, and it probably won’t resume publishing until January, Bunk said.

Emineth said the future staffing of the paper is still undecided.

“We’re reviewing every contributing writer, but we’re looking at some other options as well,” he said.

“We are going to continue the tradition that Matt Bunk put in play. He put together just a great paper, and we loved the fact he called it local, fearless and independent,” Emineth said.

Emineth, who is a partner with Scott Hennen in the Bakken Beacon Media radio network, said there is a good chance the network – KTGO 1090 AM in Tioga and AM 1100 The Flag in Fargo – will play a role in expanding the newspaper’s coverage of the Oil Patch.

“We’re still working on finalizing that business plan,” Emineth said.

A phone message left for Hennen was not returned.

Bunk said the newspaper was doing well financially, but in order for it to grow substantially, it needed an additional capital, which he said the new investors will supply.

Bunk declined to say what he plans to be doing in the future, but said the philosophies and career goals he had when he started the Great Plains Examiner remain the same.

“I love newspapers. I love the news industry in general. My focus hasn’t changed,” Bunk said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555