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Bemidji Pioneer Editor Molly Miron retires; Steve Wagner replaces her

Molly Miron1 / 2
Steve Wagner2 / 2

Molly Miron resisted a career in journalism. Three generations of her family before her had worked in print journalism.

"I really didn't want to go into it," Miron said. "It was so consuming."

So instead, she got her bachelor's and master's degrees and taught English at a South Dakota university. But she found the routine of teaching freshman composition courses to be too uniform.

She had done some freelance work, and she knew the publisher of the Brookings Register, so she inquired about a job.

She remembers what he said, "I won't guarantee you a job. But I will guarantee you an interview."

Miron had hoped for a feature-writing job. Instead, she was offered a position covering a six-county area and all of the news events therein, including the Legislature, county boards, city councils, schools, courts and feature stories.

That was 1987.

Now, 24 years later, Miron will retire from journalism.

Miron, 65, joined the Pioneer in May 2000 as the city reporter, and, for the past seven years, has served as the newspaper's editor.

"I've enjoyed it," she said. "The newsroom has a wonderful team. I really respect my colleagues."

Miron has liked working for the newspaper, noting that its staff is very collegial and noncompetitive.

"We help each other out," she said.

Miron worked at the Brookings Register until 1999, when, with her three kids all grown, she and her husband, Doug, moved to St. Cloud, Minn., as he obtained a professorship with St. Cloud State University.

While Doug was teaching, Miron was freelancing for the St. Cloud Times and enjoying her job milking 375 cows at a farm in Foley.

But after one year, they were looking to move again.

"We agreed that we would each look for jobs in areas where we might like to live," Miron recalled, "and whoever got a job first, (we would move there)."

She applied for positions at some of the eleven daily newspapers in South Dakota and a few in Minnesota, including the Pioneer.

"When I came to Bemidji for an interview, I was really impressed with the town," she said. "One of the things that really impressed me was the sculpture walk."

Miron also liked the idea of a new culture.

"I've always been interested in Indian culture," said Miron, who had learned the Dakota language while in South Dakota.

In the past 11-plus years, Miron has covered portions of all of the beats at the Pioneer, from the city to county to reservations to politics.

"I enjoyed being a reporter," she said. "I still do."

She was named the Pioneer's editor in 2004.

One of the ideas Miron had for the newspaper was to get children involved, so she started Class Act, a weekly feature showcasing elementary students' work and ideas.

"To boost the kids," she said.

The most difficult story she has covered was the Red Lake shooting. On March 21, 2005, 17-year-old Jeff Wiese, who committed suicide that day, killed 10 people, including seven at Red Lake High School.

"That was the hardest thing I've ever done, to go up there day after day after day," Miron said. "People were comforting me. That was just amazing."

As for other stories, Miron said there have been a lot of interesting ones, such as the feature she wrote this past summer on two Norwegian families who came through Bemidji as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Renault, a little French car.

"They have really been a lot of fun stories," she said,

In retirement, Miron and Doug, a consultant engineer who works at home, hope to see more of their family. They have a son and daughter-in-law in the Boston area; a son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren in Iowa City; and a daughter and son-in-law in Minneapolis.

She also plans to clean the house and get her Solway acreage is shape. Miron also plans to keep writing as a correspondent for the Pioneer.

On Oct. 24, the Bemidji Pioneer will welcome Steve Wagner as editor.

Wagner is currently news director at the Fargo Forum. He will replace Pioneer Editor Molly Miron, who retires today.

Wagner, who will be 39 when he starts at the Pioneer, is originally from Moorhead.

He said he has always read newspapers, but when he was in eighth grade, he realized journalism was his calling.

"Our English class visited our local newspaper," he said in a telephone interview. "We were responsible for writing our own two-page newspaper. I fell in love with it."

He later earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications from North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Wagner enjoys boating and keeps a boat at a marina in Walker on Leech Lake. He said he is familiar with the Bemidji area and was pleased to apply when the editorship came open.

"Being a Minnesota kid, I have a great appreciation for lakes country and the outdoors," he said.

As for his plans for the Pioneer, he said he has ideas he would like to incorporate, but first, he wants to become better acquainted with the community and newspaper staff.

"I want to feed off their energies and bring my own to the table," he said.

Wagner said his management style is collaborative and his strengths are writing and reporting.

"I've had several awards in Minnesota for investigative reporting," he said. "I've also worked in newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa after college. I've been in journalism for more than 15 years, with nearly 13 at The Forum as a reporter and news editor."

Wagner enjoys traveling. He is also a marathoner, having run 12 marathons. He said the first weekend he is in Bemidji he hopes to run the trail around the lake.