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Is a Local Only Editorial Policy Smart?

I received an email from the folks at Minnesota Monitor about the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s new local only editorial policy. Here is the thrust of the policy in a memo from the publisher Chris Harte:

I see the need for our editorial pages, like the rest of the newspaper, to concentrate more heavily than ever on local, state and regional issues. This is where we can stake a claim like no other media can.

Our readers can go to many places to get informed opinion on the Iraq war or global warming. But there are very few places they can go for expert opinion on local issues. And that is where I want us to dwell, with the active participation of our readers.

It is true readers can go many places for informed opinion, but having lived in Minneapolis for 18 years, I can tell you there is a sensibility there that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I would say the same is true in other places where I have lived, including New Hampshire (Live Free or Die), New York City, Allentown, Pennsylvania and now Marietta, Georgia. The Star Tribune is still the largest Minnesota platform to reflect that local sensibility, even when it comes to national or international issues. To take away that platform away, doesn’t enhance a sense of the local rather it diminishes it. Instead of seeing those national and international events through the sensibilities of someone who has her pulse on Minnesota, local people’s opinions will be informed by someone else, somewhere else.

Of course, this will be one more step towards making regionable papers even more irrelevant. The best writers and the most solid readers will continue to gravitate to the web. Maybe they’ll go to the Minnesota Monitor where former Star Tribune opinion writer Jim Boyd had his own say about the Star Tribune’s new policy.

3 Responses to “Is a Local Only Editorial Policy Smart?”

  1. Bill Hammond Says:

    Uh, that’s JIM Boyd, Mr. Witt, sir.

  2. Leonard Witt Says:

    Yikes, I knew that. More proof that everyone needs an editor. Thanks Bill. It’s fixed.

  3. Chris Clonts Says:

    To call it a “local only” policy is misleading. It’s clearly a “local primarily” policy.

    Nobody is saying that Twin Cities residents don’t need a voice in national and international issues.

    There is a tendency to, when faced with the changes our paper is going through, fall prey to the fallacy of the false dilemma: It’s either national or local. A or B. Arts coverage or no arts coverage. News for young people vs. news for seniors. In fact, the reality is frequently that there are more choices than A or B. There are combinations of both.

    The editorial page never did only national issues before. They’ll not do only local issues going forward.