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Monke: Transition to new role a whirlwind experience

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Most years, this past week was the one when I would typically stroll into the office casually late and maybe, if I really wanted to, punch out a short story before leaving early and relishing the so-called "dead times" between the winter and spring sports seasons.

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But my casual days at the office ended March 18. That was the day I transitioned from being The Dickinson Press' sports editor to overseeing the entire newsroom as the newspaper's managing editor.

Since, I've been asked by countless friends and readers what the change has been like.

My responses have varied, with the exception of one word: "whirlwind." My first two weeks in the new position have passed rapidly with events that can only be described as a microcosm of the crazy times we're experiencing in western North Dakota.

Instead of worrying about track and field team previews or the impending baseball and softball seasons, my focus has turned to oil, politics -- often a combination of the two, as I spoke with most of our state's highest-ranking officials at the groundbreaking for the Dakota Prairie Refinery on Tuesday -- and stories like the tragic death of 30-year-old Dickinson elementary teacher Johanna Njos.

While the transition has been a challenge, it is nowhere near overwhelming.

In fact, the worst part has been changing my sleeping habits so I can work the "normal" hours expected of my position.

Gone are my days of waking up around 10 a.m. -- 9 a.m. if I was feeling energetic -- going into work around 1 or 2 p.m. and then staying up until 2 or 3 the next morning while clearing the DVR and playing fetch with the dog in the basement.

Instead, coffee and I have renewed our rocky relationship that ended after my senior year of college.

Speaking of relationships, my fiancé, Sarah, is also adjusting to the change. She had grown accustomed to my late-night habits and seeing me the most when our days off sync up.

I've joked that I hope she sticks around now that she actually gets to see me.

The dog? Well, Noodle doesn't really care when I sleep, as long as he gets to sneak into bed with me. As long as I come home, he's happy. I'll tell you more about him and his craziness soon.

Here at the newspaper, things are going as smooth as they can be.

You may have noticed some slight changes in the past month and even in recent days, especially on the Opinion page where we are trying to emphasize more local and regional commentary with a splash of nationally syndicated columnists.

If you have an opinion, we want to hear from you. We encourage letters to the editor and hope to see more voices from western North Dakota in our pages.

I enjoy fielding questions from the public but perhaps should have better prepared myself more for the calls about what editors view as "the little things." For one, I only recently learned that the Past & Present item that often runs in our Opinion page was very well read.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn this until we began phasing it out of the Opinion page since Past & Present doesn't sync up well with what that page should be. Instead, we have found a better place for it. You will still be able to find Past & Present in our Entertainment pages.

In that frame of mind, there are a few more changes we hope to make to the pages of The Press in the coming weeks and months. We believe that they are for the better and hope you feel the same way.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at dmonke@thedickinsonpress.com, visit his blog at monke.areavoices.com and send him a tweet at monkebusiness.

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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 has been a key member of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, as well as the Press' Sweepstakes win in 2013. As the newspaper's editor, he writes a Sunday column, contributes feature stories, designs pages and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff.
(701) 456-1205
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