From Minneapolis comes news thatÂ Joel Kramer, former publisher of the MinneapolisÂ Star Tribune,Â has lined up $1.1. million ($850K from four Twin Cities’ families plus $250K in Knight Foundation support) to launch a five-day, web-based daily called MinnPost.com.
Industry zineÂ Paid Content saysÂ the new siteÂ “will feature traditional-style front page stories as well as blog posts based on original reporting by more than 20 professional journalists from around Minnesota.” Two former Star-Tribune staffers former deputy managing editor Roger Buoen andÂ former online managing editorCorey Anderson, will join Kramer atÂ the core ofÂ a network of regular freelance contributors. (Buoen will be managing editor and Anderson will be web editor; see listÂ of other staffers andÂ contributors.)
Knight’s financialÂ backing represents anÂ endorsementÂ by the nation’s leading journalism support foundation, one focused on the preservation and expansion of local coverage in real or geographic communities. (Click here to read about their Oct. 15 deadline for $5 million in local media support fund.)
In June 2007 interview on Minnesota Public Radio, Kramer hinted at his intention to launch MinnPost.com and said “It remains to be seen if we can develop a sustainable business model and an exciting journalism model” and saidÂ he would want his new site to avoid theÂ “pontificating” that seems to predominateÂ on the blogosphere.
“I’m more interested in informed commentary as well as hard-hitting news gathering,” Kramer said.Â
Poynter Institute business commentator Rick Edmonds has writtenÂ a lengthy but insightful and sympathetic essay that gets to the heart ofÂ what is importand — and worrisome — about the MinnPost.comÂ experiment. Kramer does not propose to createÂ what Edmonds calls a “hyperlocal chatter and photo site” but rather a place to create:
“. . . an alternative model, zigging to professionalism when so many think they can organize the collective force of volunteered content into something significant. There is room enough for both, but success for Kramer’s venture might get the pendulum swinging back to news for people who care about news . . .”Â
In the Poynter essayÂ KramerÂ says he hopes get about 15- to 20Â percent of theÂ one-million person Twin CitiesÂ audience, presumably the high-brow, engaged-citizen, publicÂ broadcastingÂ segment of the audience that would appreciate professional journalism.
We’ll see. This is an imporant experiment. Kramer hasÂ freed newspaper journalism from two of its current constraints, corporate ownership and print production. We’re about to find out whatÂ happens when you remove those shackles andÂ letÂ motivatedÂ journalists create a public forum in a metropolisÂ with aÂ Scandihoovian ethic of civic involvement — and long winters that offerÂ few leisureÂ optionsÂ between ice fishing and reading public policy white papers.
Okay well perhaps that’s a bit harsh. It isn’t fair to poke fun at people simply because their geography tends toward pale skin and mosquito and fish jokes. But then the humor isn’t accidental on my part nor will I apologize because the web is, above all, an irreverent medium much closer to bombastic and hyperbolic styles of, say, the Mark Twain era. Will print journalists, freed from the normal constraints, suffer underÂ its own seriousness or ignite the sort of public discussion that would make the web the forum it is designed to be as opposed to merely the newspaper-killer.
So no pressure Kramer and companyÂ justÂ becauseÂ everybody’s watching.