Ending his career where it began, Tribune publisher Dave Braton is putting the punctuation on a 45-year career.
Braton, a Fargo-Moorhead native, got his start in the newspaper business at the Fargo Forum in 1973, staying with the paper for 20 years. September 6 will mark the end as he retires from his role as publisher.
“I had a good career; I enjoyed my time,” he said. “The timing is right.”
Braton got his start while attending college for communications and marketing at Minnesota State University. He had visited the Forum, talking to staff about what it might be like to work for a newspaper. The head of the university’s mass communications school would later approach him, asking about the meeting.
“Because they want to hire you,” his professor told him.
From 1973 to 1993, Braton held advertising and management positions at The Forum in Fargo, serving six years as general manager.
“I liked the idea of working with a variety of businesses,” Braton said of his decision to join the Forum.
He said he had never thought of himself as a salesman, which he did for five years before working his way up to ad director within 10 years, but found he enjoyed it.
“I really enjoy entrepreneurs — people who, wow, put it all on the line and put a lot of risk out there,” Braton said.
Before joining Lee, Braton was director of publications for Davon Press Inc. He came to Bismarck for the first time in 2000 as director of sales for the Tribune. As he moved around, he took on more management roles.
“I took joy when other people succeeded,” he said of a good story in the newsroom or a successful sales effort in circulation or advertising.
In 2003, Braton became general manager of the Beatrice Daily Sun in Nebraska and moved to Waterloo, Iowa, in 2004 as advertising director of The Courier. Braton was named publisher of Courier Communications in March 2008. He returned to Bismarck in April 2016.
As publisher, Braton said he has enjoyed the communication with the public and hearing feedback from readers.
“I’m going to miss the people,” he said.
Braton said he believes a publisher is the steward of a community’s newspaper, and, though he was only here for a short period in the history of the Tribune, he hopes readers got the sense that it reflected them: “Like the community looking at itself in the mirror.”
Braton said he thinks a newspaper should seek roles to lead in its community — whether that be with an editorial or fundraising — and that recognizing the unpopular areas where the community could improve is as important as helping the community grow.
At 65, Braton and his wife plan to spend more time with their four grandkids at their lake home near Detroit Lakes, Minn.
“I’m ready for a new chapter,” he said. “We’ll see what that brings.”
But Braton won’t be sitting idle and said, whatever role he plays, it will include working with people.
“I need to have a purpose,” he said. “I want to be a closer grandfather, a closer father.”
In Braton’s absence, Tribune controller Libby Simes will serve as interim publisher and Jim Gaasterland will oversee press and packaging in his role as regional production director.