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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Lisa Hills and Sarah Jackson of the Minnesota Newspaper Association
March 4, 2016

Vibrant communities have newspapers that push
conversations forward to spur community change


According to Lisa Hills of the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA), community newspapers around the state, i.e., smaller dailies and nonmetro and suburban weekly newspapers, are very involved in talking about issues and challenges facing their communities. They are the only source of information in their communities and their reporters the only ones attending meetings and reporting information from government entities like county boards, city councils and school boards. She says many newspapers are doing an excellent job of discussing issues in their communities and sharing information before decisions are made. Good, solid newspapers make for vibrant communities, she asserts.

MNA's Sarah Jackson adds that there is a general feeling among newspaper people in the state that, as community leaders, newspapers have an important responsibility to push conversations forward and help make community change where they can. Hills points out the importance of newspapers carrying strong, locally written editorials on public issues. She says most community newspapers across the state have active editorial pages and nearly all publish letters to the editor.

MNA's nonprofit training arm, the Minnesota News Media Institute (MNI), offers skills training for newspaper people and a community leadership program for editors and publishers to help enable newspapers to report and lead on community issues and challenges.

Overall, Hills reports, Minnesota's community newspapers are healthy and sustainable and are not dominated by large chains. Jackson says research shows that people are reading newspapers, either print or online. Many community newspapers post their content online and some set up paywalls charging digital readers for stories in past issues of the paper or for stories beyond five or 10 that are accessible for free. One sign of the health of community newspapers around the state is that most report they have job openings, but can't find people to fill them.

For the complete interview summary see: Hills/Jackson interview

Individual Responses:

Wayne Jennings
Important and upbeat interview on the value of newspapers. Newspapers provide important local information that otherwise would be largely unknown. Iím glad to hear of the good health of papers in MN.

DeWayne Townsend
Good article. I subscribe to my hometown Bonanza Valley Voice, and agree with the views of the speakers.

David Craig
Hard to say that daily newspapers are "healthy" when they are so blatantly biased.

Scott Halstead
I always read my metro area community newspaper. It generally contains local news that the major newspapers don't [cover] along with community activities, government news and local sports. I am disappointed when a single owner has several adjacent newspapers and doesn't publish articles for the specific community newspaper.

I really appreciate reporters that write their articles versus those that reiterate the public affairs press releases.

It would be nice to have local newspapers publishing what their U.S. and State legislators are working on and their voting record.

Mark Ritchie
Great interview. Thanks.

Paul Hauge
Great to get a birdís eye view of whatís going on with outstate news media. Often wonder if the small town papers are viable, but [it] appears they are. Journalism schools should encourage grads to sample the small towns news before jumping to large city scandal sheets. Thanks for great coverage of the issue.

Alan Miller
Excellent presentation.  Unfortunately, the Millenials are least likely to rely on print, and the ones who need it most for an intelligent and diverse presentation of (hopefully) the facts and a cogent presentation of current events and society's priorities.  As an old curmudgeon, I read three newspapers daily (hard copies) and access several others on line, plus magazines but I recognize that this is unusual (starting out at 15 as a local columnist and high school editor).  I polled my college lecture classes of 50 on several occasions and was surprised if more than one hand went up regarding reading a paper daily.  Minnesota is, fortunately, an exceptional state.

Lyall Schwarzkopf
This was an interesting interview.  Having started my working career in Public Relations, and later calling on newspapers throughout the state while working for the Minnesota State Medical Association, I found that newspapers in greater Minnesota are still providing much community input.


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

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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