Sarah Stultz: Supporting journalism never more important

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I look forward every year to attending the Minnesota Newspaper Convention with colleagues in the newspaper business from all across the state.
Last week, I was fortunate to attend one day and took part in training sessions with a Star Tribune journalist about investigative journalism and another with a former St. Cloud Times photographer about photojournalism.

As is the case every time I attend the convention, I came away inspired with a desire to better my own work and to continue serving the community. It’s motivational to be around people who, in my eyes, have excelled in the industry and to learn from their expertise.

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There were many highs from that one day at the convention, but while I was there, it was brought to my attention, however, some troubling news about another newspaper in the state that I just can’t get out of my mind.

The St. Cloud Times, which serves about 200,000 people through the metro area, not too long ago experienced a major cut in its editorial staff, leaving just three reporters. The paper as recently as 2014 had 36 reporters, just for comparison.

As if three reporters weren’t devastating in itself, those remaining three have since resigned, with the last reporter leaving last week.
I was stunned — and saddened — to hear the news.

I have long respected the photographer from there whose session I got to attend at the convention, and one of our own journalists from the Tribune for a while worked there as well.

As a journalist, I looked up to the staff at the newspaper for producing content that was top-notch, that informed their communities, that held elected officials accountable and that delivered content that couldn’t be found elsewhere.

For many years, even recently, the newspaper was named the best outstate daily news organization in the Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest.

Though I am sad to see what is happening to the newspaper, I am hopeful after hearing that Forum Communications, which is based out of Fargo, is launching a new online news outlet in the St. Cloud region that will be free to readers.

Forum likely saw an opportunity for growth, and I am thankful the people there will still be able to get the local news they deserve.

News deserts are growing around the country with the country losing more than one-fourth of its newspapers since 2005, according to a report from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

I ask that you continue to support local journalism if you already have been or to jump on board if you haven’t in the past.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.