News Pinch: Minnesota Weekly Closings Prompt Harsh Comment

As reported earlier, this month will see the end of eight weekly newspapers published by Southwest News Media in Minnesota.  

Such closings are nothing new. But these are drawing harsh local commentary. “Where is the outrage?,” asks Reed Anfinsonpublisher of the Swift County Monitor-News in Benson, Minn., in an article in the Star Tribune 

Anfinson argues, “Their demise due to corporate greed was set in motion…by Denver-based company MediaNews Group, which is owned by the soulless hedge fund Alden Global Capital.”

Alden has often been accused of gutting newsrooms. Here is the type of harm that may ensue: 

“A presidential election and races for the U.S. Senate and House are on the ballot in November,” Anfinson writes. “State legislative seats and contests for school boards, city councils and county boards will bring voters to polls. Who will inform the citizens of these communities about the candidates and their positions on issues?”



Moreover, where will readers see legal notices and other types of notifications? 

Kirt Briggs, the mayor of Prior Lake, says the City Council there is deciding where to now post those documents, the Star Tribune reports in a separate article. And that’s not the only problem. 

"Quite honestly, I'm devastated by the loss of the community voice," Briggs says, according to the Star Tribune. "Essentially the daily diary of our community is being closed."

Anfinson, for one, does not spare his fellow publishers from criticism. 

“We increasingly see news sites putting up paywalls and offering premium content for those who pay more,” he writes. “These operations eliminate most people from reading the news and create an elite class of informed readers. A print newspaper is available to every citizen. A copy sits in the cafe, the library, a waiting room, at schools and on a city bus — no subscription needed.”

Here is some good news. The Eden Prairie community created Eden Prairie Local News in 2020 after Southwest News Media stopped printing the Eden Prairie News, the Star Tribune states.

“The nonprofit has the equivalent of 2.75 full-time, paid staff members; freelance writers and photographers get $60 per submission,” it writes. “Volunteers do the rest.”

Perhaps that’s a model. In the meantime, say goodbye to the beloved publications being closed: the Hutchinson Leader, Litchfield Independent Review, Chaska Herald, Chanhassen Villager, Jordan Independent, the Shakopee Valley News, Prior Lake American and Savage Pacer.

Next story loading loading..