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 Response Page - Bruce Benidt  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bruce Benidt Interview of

The Questions:

_8.3 average_____ 1.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether the largest daily newspapers as we have known them in Minnesota are dying?

_8.3 average_____ 2.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether Minnesota needs dedicated entrepreneurs to come forward and offer innovative, economically viable, and worthy replacements?

_7.2 average _____ 3.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether a community-based effort should be undertaken to articulate the problem, create public awareness, and develop suggestions for such replacements? 

Clarence Shallbetter (8) (10) (9)

Pat Lichty (10) (5) (7)

Peter Hennessey (5) (10) (0)

Question 1:  What is this? Whether the papers are dying is not a matter of OPINION, but FACT -- such as circulation and ad revenue.   WHY they are dying may be a matter of opinion, but still it too is quantifiable; are they "fair and balanced" or typically biased and pushing one ideology, like all the other papers that are failing?

Question 2: Who else but entrepreneurs? Surely you are not proposing government take-over of the media?

Question 3  Leave the community agitators out of this. By definition, entrepreneurs in any industry have to pimp themselves out to their customers, and give them what they want at a fair price. Otherwise the enterprise will fail. So let the entrepreneurs figure out what it takes to get into and make money in the news business -- what their customers want, what they will pay, what the advertisers will pay, how to put the product on the market at the least cost, etc. 

If we still have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, the government or the "community" has no role in offering, managing or regulating news and commentary, except as customers voting with their purchases and letters to the editor.

Wayne Jennings (8) (9) (8)

Another thoughtful presenter!

Fred Senn (10) (5) (8)

Donald H. Anderson (9) (8) (5)

Dennis Johnson (9) (0) (0)

Newspapers existed for two reasons: Information, and Opinion. As to information, there are much better resources available now to use than newspapers, mainly the Internet. As to opinion, journalists have lost the capacity to distinguish between information and opinion, and the vast majority write to their own biases, which are over 90 per cent liberal. The same is true of schools of journalism. People now want a greater variety of opinion, and want to know what is news and what is opinion. So why should this obsolete medium continue to exist, either by subsidy or by wealthy donors supporting them? Let them die with the horse and buggy.

Paul H. Hauge (6) (10) (10)

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (4)

Bert Press (10) (10) (10)

Paul Magnuson (10) (5) (6)

Shirley Heaton (10) (10) (10)

Well you really hit a nerve with this session. Being a retired journalist who studied journalism at the University of Minnesota, I was most interested in the topic -- as you can imagine. I can't help but feel that the print media should consider going the not-for-profit route with the intention of being eligible for seeking financial assistance from Foundations with the 'civic conscience' Bruce talked about. Having just received my certificate in Grant Writing from Rollins College (Winter Park, FL) I am convinced there are angels out here who are simply waiting for a tax-relief deal from the IRS to set up foundations (if they haven't already) to come to the rescue. The political consequence of not being able to endorse candidates could be resolved in other ways, I'm sure.

Journalism will become nothing more than a 'spectator sport' if the print media is not available to give credibility to the electronic 'whatever' we're getting these days. And I love the concept of reporters willing to do the leg-work on a pay-for-print basis. Only thing is, the print media would have to have good re-writers on the staff to sift and digest the info in accordance with their newspaper's purpose and policy. As for the 'Journalist Institute" idea -- while a reporter in Baltimore I, of the Afro American, and fellow reporters of the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore News Herald informally set up such an arrangement (unknown to our publishers, of course, and no doubt the editors had suspicions but never voiced them). It worked perfectly.

In other words, SAVE THE STRIB should be a cry heard throughout the U.S.!

Eric Schubert (10) (10) (10)

Peter Heegaard (8) (10) (10)

Roy Thompson (8) (7) (7)

Robert A. Freeman (8) (7) (1)

Question 1:  Not only in Minnesota, but newspapers across the country are dying off as they struggle to compete with the Internet and change their business model to reflect the lack of advertising revenues.  I do not believe this is necessarily a bad thing in the long run as nature abhors a vacuum and suspect that the entities referred to in the next question will fill the void.

Question 2:   Entrepreneurs will always come forward, whether there is money to be made from some new model of providing news, or whether it is for more civic reasons (e.g. Joel Kramer and MinnPost, which has found a way of providing quality journalism without the infrastructure of a newspaper).

Question 3:   Wholly disagree with the notion that the business, or especially the state, should intervene, convene or in any way get involved with the media (e.g. in the way in which the feds have bailed out the auto industry).  Think this starts us down a very slippery slope if the media owes anything to the state or to a benefactor. 

Bob White (9) (9) (10)

Robert J. Brown (8) (10) (10)

Question 1:  They are dying, but they wouldn’t have if the ownership didn’t pass from people who cared about the community to media conglomerates who were used to 30% profit in the tv business rather than the 8-10% profit of a typical business. The greed led to reduction in staff which led to less in-depth reporting and less quality product which hastened the decline of readership which drove advertising revenues down.  Even the Strib would be profitable now if the owners had overpaid in the desire to make outlandish profits in a field they didn’t understand. It is sad that we have only the Hubbard media as the only locally owned media in the market – and the only one with the resources and willingness to contribute to the Minnesota nonprofit community.

Question 2:   What we need are social entrepreneurs who would like to make a profit, but have some sense of community responsibility in developing media with integrity and depth.

John Finnegan (8) (10) (5)

Kent Eklund (9) (9) (5)

Joe Mansky (9) (5) (5)
I’m not sure of the best direction to go at this point. On the one hand, people are willing to pay for well informed reporting in a format like the Economist, which is not daily. On the other hand, since craigslist obviously makes money on classified ads, one wonders when someone will figure out a way to take that business away from them on the local level.

David Pundt (9) (5) (7)

Alan Miller (9) (10) (10)

Bill Hamm (8) (8) (8)

Question 1: There is no question of this fact the difference lies in why. The biggest problems for these organizations are ownership with no ties to the people they serve, pro Socialist antigun themes by many of these entities that do not register well with the populations they purport to serve, and a failure to achieve relevance. As a long time writer of LTE's, new rules in recent years making my submissions copywriter of the individual papers I have written for, this means that now I have to do a rewrite for every paper I submit to which makes them all but worthless to activists like myself. I have a hard time pitying poor decision making and out right arrogance in the face of defeat amongst many of these outside owned organizations with little or no connection to their base.

Question 2: To some extent examples of this already exist. Adam Steele's publications over in Bemidji is one such example of a locally owned press with a connection to the people he serves. Scenic Range News of Bovey is another. Like many I have long since dropped the Murdock style press.

Question 3: Many of us out here who have recognized this problem for years have been trying to put forth some competition with very little success. A number of such entrepreneurial enterprises have tried and failed for lack of resources and experience. I continue to publish targeted, mostly political, stuff and dream of creating a viable local entity.

Thank you for putting an issue with statewide implications back on the front burner.

Jennifer Armstrong

I posted your interview to the MN Voices Online discussion board.  It's an online discussion space for folks using technology to build community across Greater Minnesota.  You can see the post at

The decline of legacy media has been a thread on the board.

It's an interesting group with LOTS of technology new media savvy.  Spend some time wandering around. The place I like to start is with the members at see who's on board.

Bill Frenzel (10) (5) (1)

Question 1: Apparently they have been managed about as well as General Motors.

Question 2: The need may be there, but the likelihood is not.

Question 3:  This is not a ballot issue. Some entrepreneur has to figure out what the market, if any, is; create  an effective business model; and risk a ton of dough. Would you invest in such a venture?

Chuck Slocum (8) (10) (10)

Another way to put this question is, in the future, “Who will pay for journalism?”

Mark Ritchie

Thanks for this very interest look at newspapers and the media

State Sen. Sandy Rummel (6) (10) (9)

Question 1:  Clearly the local content in our papers is diminishing; and much of the content comes from AP or NYT. Maybe that is efficient, and better than nothing.
Question 2: My question is how do we get impartial news untainted by the “profit” factor. I like MPR and TPT and think MinnPost is the next best thing for news.

Charles Lutz (4) (9) (8)

Ray Schmitz (8) (10) (10)

David Broden (9) (10) (10)
Question 1:  Newspapers are a rapidly dying breed for a number of reasons that keep being discussed--the public demand for information has evolved to seeking information in almost any form including news print but newsprint has competition in form for readers and in advertising revenue so both reader revenue is down or gone and so is the revenue from advertisers --big and small --business and classified. Discussion of the death of newspapers thus requires consideration of topics such as content, content quality, reader interest, cost of the newsprint vs. free sources, and the revenue based advertising. Advertising requires an audience and if no readers no need to advertise etc. Bottom line newspaper format as we have know it is dead or dying-- the search for information/news remains--the need to advertise remains--thus how does a new form of media with the appropriate access by the citizens evolve and provide the information required for an informed society--I think that we all believe that for the republic democracy form of government with informed citizenry to continue to be strong and grow we must have an active and effective  media (note I did not say newspaper)  available to all and which ensures public awareness and stimulates the needed discussions. This is the challenge.

Question 2: The media must be local owned and have a very solid local/state commitment and sense of who and what we are. For this come to from the private sector is important to build a process and capability that links to the people and an community of business, industry, government etc. The new media (not newspapers) must be of a form that evolve with time and will have the needed incentives for innovation. This is best served by the private sector. The new form may be partnership with a non-profit structure for journalists etc.--and the media being the distribution and communication leg of the media capability. Other concepts also apply. More on this in  following discussions over the next few months. 

Question 3: Public debate is the purpose so the stimulus for the new media must evolve from the those who will be the users and readers and those that seek a process for advertising an those that will communicate. The effort should be open and unbiased.

Terry Stone (10) (8) (2)

This discussion was focused upon the supply side of the daily print news medium while the nature of the demand side was assumed. This incites the curiosity about whether or not there is an ablation of critical thinking and the enthusiasm for news that attends such interest and thinking.

Language is more than an aggregation of words. Language implies, facilitates and shapes an intellectual and cultural paradigm. In the midst of an information explosion, the individual writing skills of our populace have waxed truncated. Unless one uses writing skills for work, proper English appears too burdensome. Speed seems valued over precision.

There seems a reasonable argument that our culture may not propagate the demand side of comprehensive newsgathering and distribution.

While experiments like MinnPost seem to be the larval form of some new digital format, they are self-absorbed with the cuteness of being not a newspaper. It is perhaps intuitive that the work product of a body of people enchanted with a new medium would bend noticeably to the left. A duly pupated and ultimately mature version of such experiments may grow to pass the ultimate metric of capitalist matriculation; Will someone pay for it? Then we can return to the annoying demand side question, “Are there still enough critical thinkers remaining in our linguistically and intellectually challenged culture to support a quality news service?”

Jim Keller (5) (10) (10)
It is true that newspapers are in decline, but it is difficult for me to accept that news, in depth, will die without replacement. Neither TV nor blogs give us depth in the news. I wonder why Mr Benidt did not comment on a combined Metro paper. Personally, I would like to see a "public" newspaper, much like MPR which did not have a political agenda.

Shari Prest (7) (7) (7)

Tom Swain (8) (10) (10)

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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