Every year the Center for Small Towns works closely with Sarah Bauer at the Minnesota Newspaper Association to help small town news papers improve and better connect with their audience. Rural newspapers are an important and key way that small towns can connect with their citizens and engage people throughout the area.
Do a quick google search for the term “rural newspapers” and there are hundreds of responses about research, commentary, and community conversation about the state of, and the importance of newspapers in small towns. While many radio and news articles seem only to talk about newspapers in the big city, the Minnesota Newspaper Association and the Center for Small Towns are more interested in the conversation as it relates to rural areas.
This spring Sarah Theide, a recent UMM grad, worked with the Minnesota Newspaper Association and students Zach Threadgill and Joe Feely to provide small town newspapers with ways to not only improve their content, but to show communities a diverse representation of leadership and involvement. After spending months analyzing and coding boxes of newspapers Sarah presented to editors and publishers from rural areas throughout the state about her findings and what that means for their publications. She was also able to give rural newspapers coded copies of their work demonstrating their content through the lens of different topics and community issues.
While Sarah graduated this spring, and is working as a substitute teacher throughout the area, the Center for Small Towns plans to continue working with rural newspapers and exploring their intrinsic value to small towns and rural areas. Next year we hope to be back at the Minnesota Newspaper Association Editors and Publishers Leadership Program Conference working hands on with small towns publishers and journalists and giving students the opportunity to engage with them as well.
If you’re interested in more information about Minnesota newspapers check out the Minnesota Newspaper Association and their Editors and Publishers Community Leadership program.