Hills / Jackson
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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
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.
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