Bittersweet attention for North Dakota
An item in our After Deadline column for Monday:
At last week's Minnesota Newspaper Association convention in Bloomington, I was talking at lunch with a colleague from North Dakota, and of course the conversation turned to the oil boom that's transforming the West River country, as we used to call it -- what's now called the Bakken. I was a reporter in Jamestown, N.D., during the last oil boom, in the early 1980s, and was out in that vast country along the Little Missouri badlands and the Missouri Slope, on up into Williston, as often as my boss would let me go.
The newsman I talked with last week said that it's pretty much impossible to find a place to live in western North Dakota, with thousands of people crowding in for oil work. In Dickinson, where his company owns the Press, that makes it tough to recruit and keep employees.
The solution? They bought an apartment building and rent it out to Press employees. That's a novel way for a newspaper company to diversify, but I'm guessing North Dakota is a good place to sell newspapers right now.
A lot of people in our area have headed out to the Bakken to work in the oil patch. I'll be going out there for a week this spring to tell their stories.
If you're interested in the topic, the New York Times Magazine had a cover story on the Dakota oil boom Sunday. For those of us who love the wide-open, desolate, untouched country that was western North Dakota, it's bittersweet attention. -- Jay Furst