Normally, the doings of a NoDak paper aren’t news here in the big city, but Tuesday’s layoffs at the Fargo Forum are noteworthy for a few reasons:
1. Forum Communications has aggressively snapped up Minnesota papers, including the Duluth News-Tribune, and is considered one of the industry’s healthiest players. In December, I floated them as a possible Star Tribune or Pioneer Press buyer; Forum CEO William Marcil flatly and publicly shot that notion down.
2. The North Dakota economy has been one of the nation’s healthiest — they have a billion-dollar budget reserve, with a 3.3 percent unemployment rate and anecdotal evidence Minnesotans are moving there for jobs.
One of the reasons Forum is among the industry’s healthiest players is that it’s among the tightest-fisted. Still, if they can’t preserve headcount in one of the nation’s economic oases, the media meltdown just got hotter.