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Monke: Shining the spotlight on southwest North Dakota citizens

Vast amounts of oil and natural gas are rising from beneath our feet, driving industry throughout southwest North Dakota. On the ground, there are hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure and construction projects.

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However, there remains one constant: the people who make it all possible.

Today, The Dickinson Press debuts a feature we intend to make a weekly part of our newspaper. We’re calling it Southwest Spotlight.

Southwest Spotlight is meant to be The Press’ local answer to the popular “Faces of the Boom” weekly feature written by Amy Dalrymple, our Forum News Service reporter who is stationed in Williston and who covers all things related to the oil and energy industry.

The ongoing feature series, which will be a collaborative effort between myself and The Press’ news reporters, is designed to feature people who are making an impact on the changes taking place in southwest North Dakota.

We are running with this idea for a number of reasons.

First, and most important, is that it allows us to feature people. I have found that most Sundays, we have strong and informative stories in our newspaper. However, many of those stories tend to focus on issues and challenges facing western North Dakota — not the people facing them.

Today, our state is dealing with more issues than we have ever faced. There are people everywhere making an impact on or being impacted by these issues. Southwest Spotlight’s intention is to shine the spotlight on those people.

When I became The Press’ sports editor in 2006, I quickly learned that some of my most-read and well-received stories were feature articles of athletes. Readers liked to read them because it gave them a chance to meet the person responsible for the points, goals or runs, and to learn more about them and what makes them tick.

Southwest Spotlight is intended to be similar to that as we take a look at the people who are helping shape our area — be it in a big or small way.

While we have some great ideas for people to feature, we are asking that readers submit ideas for Southwest Spotlight.

If you know someone — whether they’re a lifelong area resident or new to the area — who is making an impact or seeing success because of the boom, please let me or one of our reporters know. My contact information is listed at the bottom of the story.

In addition to Southwest Spotlight, we are working to feature more people in our newspaper’s agriculture section that runs each Friday by reviving the popular feature profiles on farmers, ranchers and their families.

If you know of an agricultural producer we have not written about in the past but is someone who you feel has a story to be told, contact me or agriculture reporter Bryan Horwath at

When I took over as managing editor in March, I made it a point of stating that I wanted to see our newspaper feature more people. Today, I believe we have taken a step toward reaching that goal.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at, call him at 701-456-1205 and tweet him at monkebusiness. Read his past features and columns at

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

(701) 456-1205