Long Time AP Reporter Dale Wetzel Joins New North Dakota Media Outlet

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Some big news in North Dakota political coverage as long-time Associated Press reporter Dale Wetzel – perhaps the best journalist in the state – is joining a new media outlet started by former NDGOP Chairman Gary Emineth and talk show host Scott Hennen.

The Bakken Beacon will encompass the Great Plains Examiner, a weekly newspaper which was recently purchased from founder Matt Bunk (who remains on as a partner there) as well as the AM1100 radio station in Fargo and KTGO AM1090 which broadcasts in the state’s oil patch.

Obviously, given the ownership structure, many might be tempted to dismiss this as right-wing media organization, but that would be hasty. Wetzel has a ton of credibility which he brings to the table.

“This is a venture that’s going to focus on news and issues,” Wetzel says in the press release sent out this evening (see the whole thing below). “It is not some Republican propaganda project. If it were, I wouldn’t be part of it. For one thing, nobody would listen to a show like that. It wouldn’t be good business.”

I’m not sure that having an ideological bent is necessarily bad for business (ask Fox News, the Huffington Post and MSNBC), but one doesn’t need to fill an ideological hole to be successful in North Dakota’s media environment. Let’s just say the state’s reporters leave a lot of meat on the bone.

In addition to Wetzel being a part of this media company, they’ll also be doing a weekday evening broadcast (airing on KFYR Radio in Fargo as well as the two Bakken Beacon stations) focusing on covering the legislative session. It will be broadcast, interestingly enough, from the Peacock Alley (a bar and restaurant in Bismarck well-known as a favorite hangout of the state’s politicos) from 7 – 9pm starting January 7th.

Bakken Beacon press release

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • RCND

    They should try to pluck Dave Thompson from Prairie Public and Dave Kolpack from AP while they are at it. Then they will have effectively cornered the market on real journalists in ND. Great Plains also has more than their share of left leaners on staff too

    • Guest

      Dave Kolpack is a real journalist?? I think you’re confused.

  • carter wood

    Excellent. Lots of changing things in North Dakota, including the media! Congrats to Dale.

  • Dallas

    Wetzel, great journalist? Get real. His only expertise is in cheese burgers. Please tell me of one big story that Dale broke while hiding in his AP office the past 15 years.
    The oil boys can certainly afford better than Scott (Bank Boy) Hennen, Dale (Pass the Gravy) Wetzel and Gary (Bag Boy) Emineth.
    Now we’re going to get a two hour screed from Huey, Louie and Dewy, on a station Clear Channel has already driven to the dump!

    • Guest

      What

    • Carter Wood

      You apparently know little about the hard work of journalism.

      I competed with Dale in the 1990s as a reporter. He was up earlier than I, worked later than I, and broke 7.2 times the stories that I did. North Dakota reporting actually involves talking to people, understanding budgets, reading federal reports and, well, not being an idiot. I did OK, but Dale did much better.

      You can insult. So why not try reporting, if you’re so good?

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        All Dallas knows about Dale Wetzel is he’s working for a media company owned by prominent Republicans. If Dale had gone to work for MSNBC Dallas would be singing his praises.

        Dale’s body of work speaks for itself.

        • Dallas

          Dale would never be hired by a outlet like MSNBC.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Says you.

      • Jim Fuglie

        Geez, Carter, don’t be so hard on yourself.

        • Guest

          Oh, Jim, you’re right. 3.7 times the stories!

        • Carter

          Thanks, Jim. OK, In the day, I did work hard. My highlight was always interviewing Jim Fuglie, tourism director.

          It’s amazing to think about what’s happened to the Capitol press corps. Going back to 1991: Bismarck Tribune had 3 reporters during the session, the GF Herald and Minot Daily News each had one; Fargo Forum had one plus help; AP had two plus help. Radio and TV each had what were the equivalent of full-time Capitol reporters.

          Things change, no use for nostalgia, but there’s definitely less reporting.

    • Buffalo Bob

      Sadly, Dallas is on target. The rest of the story is that the AP was “right sizing” itself, shedding less productive people. Does ND really need another right wing voice sucking up to the Harold Hamm-ites who are leasing ND elected politicians faster than mineral acres in Williams County–and for much less money. This state can only hope the AP replaces Dale with a young aggressive reporter who has a nose for news and isn’t afraid to report the facts.

      I hope this group of marginal talent will keep their day jobs, not encumber their retirement savings so as to not clog the bankruptcy courts, nor become bitter old coots forced to live on the dole.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        The rest of the story is that the AP was “right sizing” itself

        That’s a lie.

  • borborygmi

    That Hennen above in the back? If it is Good for him he must of got his health back. Healthiest he has looked in a long time.

  • bigdaddybernie

    KFYR . . . . . Part of the problem . . . . . or doesn’t Dorgan count ?

    • Bat One

      That’s funny!!! Dorgan, head of the budget committee that doesn’t do a budget, doesn’t count. Priceless!

      • buffalo bob

        This place is filled with people equally qualified to be part of the New Right Wing Gas Bags. Dorgan and Budget Committee-???? Nobody checks facts in this crowd. Who is bankrolling this goon squad? the Koch Brothers?

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Bat One isn’t from North Dakota, and doesn’t speak for anyone but himself.

          As for who fact checks this blog, i have an open comments section so that if someone like you wants to criticize, you’re welcome to it.

          • Jim Fuglie

            Okay, now, I’ve seen the Koch Brothers and Harold Hamm mentioned here. Who IS bankrolling this media operation?

          • Buffalo Bob

            Only lefties would ask who is banking rolling this august group. Righties know Harold Hamm is Hennen’s silent partner… Hamm and his OK-Texas buddies simply agree to funnel ad money at inflated rates…occasionally thru Odney. and Goettle who went into oil country with seminars to “educate” employees how to vote in ND. Maybe newshound Wetzel will do a follow up on the heavy provisional voting up there? yeah, right.

        • Flyby_Knight

          Ooh, Bob invoked the Koch brothers. They’re the root of all evil, you know. Zing!

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Well A) North Dakota’s Senator Kent Conrad is the head of the Budget Comittee. Senator Byron Dorgan retired in 2010.

        B) I think Bernie is talking about Darrell Dorgan, Byron’s brother, who is a long-time reporter.

        • bigdaddybernie

          No ! I’m talking about KFYR’s support for their LACKEY, Byron , or was it visa-versa ! . . . Every election cycle Dorgan put on an Asgrow hat, posed for a photo-op in front of a John Deere in a farmyard, and disappeared for 6 years, but for parades !

          • buffalo bob

            Bernie-you been getting your news from Say Anything? Sen Dorgan hated parades and tried to have “scheduling conflicts” to avoid them. Asgrow hat?

          • bigdaddybernie

            Asgrow is a brand of seed. . . . . Corn, I think (?).
            P.S. I’ve been watching Dorgan sell North Dakota ” down the river ” for many years ,and I’ve watched as Minnesota politics mined western North Dakota for the benefit of their own interest , with our complicit Senator !

          • Buffalo Bob

            bernie- your knowledge of things ND qualifies you to rely on the puff pieces you’ll hear via the 4 stooges. Next time try Agsco?

  • Mike

    What unfilled niche will this venture fill? Ask Nikki at The Independent of Barnes County and Beyond. It’s not easy.

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