GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Mike Jacobs, publisher of the Grand Forks Herald who helped lead the newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the historic 1997 Red River flood, plans to retire next year.

Jacobs has been with the North Dakota newspaper in various roles for 35 years and has been publisher since 2004. He plans to step down at the end of March, the Herald announced Wednesday (

Jacobs was editor of the Herald when it won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the flood that devastated the northeastern North Dakota city's downtown, including the newspaper's offices.

The Herald was published at temporary sites for more than a year but never missed an edition. Papers were dropped by plane or trucked to towns where displaced residents were refugees.

Jacobs said keeping daily editions rolling off the presses was not the most difficult part of his job as the newsroom leader.

"Putting out a newspaper during a crisis is challenging, but not as challenging as dealing with some of the personnel decisions you have to make," he said

Jacobs said a lesson he learned in his time at the Herald was to place the concept of community at the forefront of the newspaper.

"Community is important," he said. "And the newspaper is an important part of the community."

Jacobs and his wife, Suezette Bieri, plan to stay in Grand Forks when he retires. He has no immediate plans other than gardening, he said.

"I will die with that morning's issue of the Herald in my hands," Jacobs said. "And I plan on living for a lot longer."