Local media round up: Star Tribune, MinnPost, The Rake

Categories: Media

The local media scene has been changing and evolving pretty rapidly in just the last week. Minnesota Independent was the story last week as we reported on layoffs through their parent company Center for Independent Media.


MinnPost published a memo sent out to Star Tribune employees warning of some "painful" cuts coming to the company. There's no mention of how many or where the paper will choose to slash, but we will keep you updated when news comes out.

Here is some of the memo:

We will have to cut much deeper, and many of the reductions we make will be painful. But we absolutely must get our budget in line with our revenue.

Plus, we still have the compound problem of having to fix an unworkable debt structure. We continue to work with our lenders on what form a debt restructuring will take.

We will survive this unprecendented set of bad circumstances we are in, but we will have to make sacrifices that we don't want to make. The retail, housing, jobs and automotive markets will all come back at some point. But technological changes and powerful economic forces at work right now are not in our control. And we will never regan the dominance we once had in employment classifieds and many other categories.

Read the rest here.

MinnPost got a shout out in a New York Times article about web media organizations trying to make it as print journalism struggles to stay afloat.

Most of this new breed of news sites have a whiff of scruffy insurgency, but MinnPost, based in Minneapolis, resembles the middle-age establishment. Its founder and chief executive, Joel Kramer, has been the editor and publisher of The Star Tribune, of Minneapolis, and its top editors are refugees from that paper or its rival, The Pioneer Press in St. Paul.

MinnPost is rich compared with its peers — with a $1.5 million bankroll from Mr. Kramer and several others when it started last year, and a $1.3 million annual budget — and it has been more aggressive about selling ads and getting readers to donate.

The full-time editors and reporters earn $50,000 to $60,000 a year, Mr. Kramer said — a living wage, but less than they would make at the competing papers. MinnPost has just five full-time employees, but it uses more than 40 paid freelance contributors, allowing it to do frequent reporting on areas like the arts and sports.

The decline of print is both a benefit and a downfall for these local sites, the NYTimes says.

“No one here welcomes the decline of newspapers,” said Andrew Donohue, one of two executive editors at VoiceofSanDiego. “We can’t be the main news source for this city, not for the foreseeable future. We only have 11 people.”

The potential problem in the long term? They depend on donations to stay viable and in a tough economy, their funding stream might get the boot.

In other media news, The Rake and MNSpeak are no more. They've combined their efforts into a new site: Secrets of the City.

Here is an excerpt of their welcome note:

As you can tell, Secrets of the City is a hybrid of rakemag.com and mnspeak.com. All the features of both sites are still here, including Today's Talk from MNSpeak and the blogs, magazine articles and entertainment databases from The Rake. We hope that the fusion of content will make Secrets of the City an essential daily digest of Twin Cities culture.

So far we don't see anything different besides a newly combined design, but it will be interesting to see if the combo will end up creating different and additional content. The Rake mag site died down considerably when the print edition shut down, but writers were still publishing work several times a day online.

What do the hardcore fans of both think about this new change? The response is pretty mixed if you look at the pretty large comments section on the first post. Many are questioning why the sites chose to drop their brands for a new one. Old school MNSpeakers are upset with the change in design and format. We'll wait to see how this all shakes out as people adjust and check it out. We aren't too confident they'll have many secrets to tell us, but we'll stay hopeful.


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