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McLister named Forum Communications vice president

Steve McLister named vice president of newspapers for Forum Communications Company.

Steve McLister, publisher of the Duluth News Tribune, will be leaving his post to become vice president of newspapers for Forum Communications Co., based in Fargo, N.D., in February.

Forum Communications is the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin and other publications in the Rivertown Newspaper Group in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

In his new role with the News Tribune's parent company, McLister will be expected "to foster sales and Internet initiatives as the company positions itself for industry changes in 2009 and beyond," according to a news release.

Forum has not yet named a succeeding publisher for the Duluth Newspaper Group, but the search has started, and McLister said he plans to be involved.

"It is our hope and intent to fill this position from within the company," he said. "I positively believe that we have the talent internally that could rise up and assume these responsibilities."

McLister joined the News Tribune on July 1, 2007, replacing Marti Buscaglia.

He has shepherded the paper through some trying economic times that have prompted the Duluth News Tribune to cut staff and trim the size of the newspaper it produces.

"Where we are today is not what we had planned or envisioned initially," said McLister, citing the industry-wide challenge of diminished demand for conventional newspapers and a softening economy.

"What we've been through is not what I wanted or what our employees or the community as a whole wanted," he said. "But I don't want to apologize for being a good fiscal steward for the company. I believe the decisions we've made, while painful, will serve us well into the future, to make sure that the paper is still here 100 years from now, and that it will be healthy and viable."

McLister said the newspaper will continue to evolve and he hopes to see it rebound and grow anew when the economy gains a steadier footing. Changes were deemed necessary elsewhere, as well.

Forum operates the Duluth Newspaper Group: a cluster that includes the Duluth News Tribune, the Superior Telegram, Living North Magazine and the weekly Duluth Budgeteer News, Cloquet Pine Journal and Lake County News Chronicle in Two Harbors.

The Telegram saw perhaps the most profound change, dropping from a six-day-a-week publication to a twice-weekly cycle during McLister's tenure.

In announcing his pending departure via a companywide e-mail, McLister said: "It's with a heavy heart that I will be leaving our group in a couple of months, albeit for an exciting opportunity in our company.

"In my new role, I will continue to work with all of you on the journey I've been a privilege to be a part of the last 16 months. This work isn't done, but you all have helped to lay the foundation for reshaping the News Tribune and our community papers to be competitive and successful in what is still a vibrant, exciting industry."

McLister, 50, has been in the newspaper business since 1979. He joined Forum in 1995, when the chain purchased the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic from Thomson Newspapers.

He served as publisher of that newspaper until 1997, when he was tapped to lead the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn., also a Forum Communications publication.

He was promoted to general manager of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and served in that capacity until taking the job in Duluth.

Lloyd Case, president of Forum Communications Co., issued a statement saying: "Steve brings a great deal of sales and management ability to our newspaper group and will be a great addition to our leadership team."