Bechen, Wideman assume new roles at newspaper

posted Jan. 2, 2018 9:20 a.m. (CDT)
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EAU CLAIRE — Two experienced journalists have joined The Country Today editorial department in full-time positions as the new year begins.

Brooke Bechen, a reporter and assistant editor at The Dodgeville Chronicle since September 2012, has joined The Country Today staff as a southern Wisconsin regional editor. She began her new duties on Dec. 27.

Ben Wideman, who has worked part time for The Country Today since July 2017, became a full-time regional editor covering eastern Wisconsin on Jan. 1.

Bechen will cover the southern Wisconsin counties that had been covered in recent years by retired editor Jim Massey. Heidi Clausen, a regional editor for The Country Today for 24 years, assumed Massey’s duties as editor on Jan. 1.

Bechen is a 2012 graduate of UW-Platteville, where she earned a degree in communication technologies with a journalism emphasis and a minor in public relations. At The Dodgeville Chronicle, she reported on local government, wrote feature stories and helped with newspaper layout.

She was named a “Future Headliner” by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in 2016 and was honored as one of five young newspaper professionals in Wisconsin. She will continue participation in ongoing educational and editorial opportunities associated with the program.

Bechen is a 2008 graduate of Dodgeville High School and lives in Dodgeville.

“My experiences reporting in Iowa County for the past five years have prepared me for my new role at The Country Today,” Bechen said. “Although I have big shoes to fill with the retirement of Jim Massey, I am confident my passion for journalism will make me a perfect fit for this job.

“I am excited to get to know our readers and for the opportunity to explore and share the stories of residents in the southern part of the state.”

Bechen said since high school, it was her dream to work for a community newspaper.

“I really do believe the newspaper will always have a place in the world,” Bechen said. “People will always want to know what’s going on in their communities, at their schools, what local governments are up to, changes that might affect residents. The newspaper will always be a consistently reliable source of that information.”

Bechen said she most enjoys writing features.

“I do believe everyone has a story to tell,” she said.

Bechen can be reached at or 608-574-5405.

Wideman goes full time

Wideman worked for Gannett Wisconsin newspapers in eastern Wisconsin for about 20 years as a features editor, assistant news editor, special projects editor, features reporter, news reporter, copy editor, photographer, photo editor, page designer and videographer. Among the Gannett-owned newspapers he worked for in eastern Wisconsin were papers in Appleton, Manitowoc, Green Bay, Sheboygan and Sturgeon Bay.

Since 2014, Wideman has worked as director of media relations and director of athletics at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. He continued in that role on a part-time basis after joining The Country Today in July 2017.

“I look forward to sharing the stories of people who live and work here in rural eastern Wisconsin, as well as the topics that affect their daily lives,” Wideman said. “I’ve greatly enjoyed being part of The Country Today team ever since starting part time in July, and I’m excited to transition into a full-time role because it provides even more opportunities to spotlight agriculture and rural life in my 22-county region.

“I wish Sara well in her retirement, and I know I have big shoes to fill because she did an outstanding job in this area for so many years.”

Wideman can be reached at or 920-242-3226.

“Ben and Brooke are both experienced, capable journalists who we know will make great contributions to our newspaper,” said The Country Today Editor Heidi Clausen. “I’m excited to have Ben now join our staff full time and to welcome Brooke into the fold.”

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