Our conservative friends in the Rowdy Crowd have speculated that MinnPost will be nothing more than the RedStar Online, an outlaw outpost where commie Star Tribune ex-patriots are free to be even more vicious in their attacks on conservatives and America than they were at the Star Tribune. I have visions of them setting their NetNanny software Wednesday evening to protect the children from MinnPost’s policy porn.

If the first edition is any indication, the conservatives look to be about half right.

They are right in that so far MinnPost reads a lot like the Star Tribune. While former Star Tribune publisher Joel Kramer aspires to go deeper into context and implications than the Star Tribune, I didn’t see a real difference there yet. That was a bit of an inaugural buzz kill.

The reporting seemed very similar to Star Tribune reporting. It maybe was a little more sassy, intellectual, reporter-centric (i.e. prominently featuring reporters’ mugs), and interactive than the Star Tribune, but the differences were relatively subtle. It featured very good journalism, but not great journalism.

But our conservative friends’ predictions are wrong, so far, that MinnPost will be a more aggressively liberal version of the Star Tribune. Steve Berg and Delma Francis had pretty liberal pieces in the first edition, while liberal Doug Grow did what he so often did at the Star Tribune, took shots at liberals. Beyond that, I’m not sure any of the other pieces could be considered to have a political bent of any type. I didn’t hear a conservative voice in the mix, which is very disappointing, but this is far from an agressively liberal publication.

I like the Star Tribune better than many alternative information sources – talk radio, TV news, local weeklies, cable TV shout-offs, and blogs — so I generally liked my first glimpse of MinnPost. But MinnPost aspires to be considerably different and better than the Star Tribune, and on that front it has a ways to go.

– Loveland

10 thoughts on “

  1. ghornseth says:

    Good points, Joe. I liked it, too.

    For me, I was less interested in the left/right mix than I was the news/analysis mix in the first day’s content. It seemed to me to be about 20 percent news and 80 percent analysis. Somehow I think I was envisioning the reverse.

    I wonder how representative this first day will be. I came away from a lot of it feeling like I’d read some thoughtful opinion blogging laced with some original reporting — closest, perhaps, to the standard idea of the “column.” I wonder: As things evolve, will MinnPost be primarily a news source or a commentary source?

    Anyway, I’m sure the guys over there are swimming in first-day feedback — pro and con. I salute their courage. It’ll be interesting to see how things look with a few months under the belt.

  2. bbenidt says:

    For me, the success of MinnPost will depend on how the “posts” are thought out and written. If they are informed, honest, lively and reflect the reporter’s knowledge, experience , voice and passion, I’ll keep reading. If they’re just good journalism, I probably won’t.

    I will go to consistently if I read things like Jay Weiner wrote in the first issue (and posts will stay accessible on the site even when they’re not on the front page — just click on the writer). I want these journalists to go out there and report (that’s a huge difference Joel Kramer and Roger Buoen see between MinnPost and blogs — reporters are skilled information gatherers and analyzers who will go find things out, not just comment on what others find out) and then tell me what they know. Not just what information they’ve found, or what someone said, or what new wrinkle happened. Tell me what you know this means.

    Joel has tried to describe what this new approach in the posts will be like. He says reporters will give us their take on what something means. They’ll tell us what they’ve learned. They’ll give us more analysis.

    This is a hard thing to figure out in journalism — how to go beyond just transmitting government or business or environmental advocates’ information without going too far into editorializing. Where’s the line between objective reporting and opinion? I don’t believe there is any objective reporting, and have long believed reporters should say what they think something means, how it fits in to what has already happened or what might happen next. But I don’t want to read just anybody going into this subjective approach — I want qualified reporters and thinkers. People who are smart. Who don’t take anybody’s word for anything. Who push people on every side of an issue to back up what they assert. I don’t care if a reporter is a rightie or a leftie as long as the reporter tells me his or her view and calls bullshit bullshit no matter what side it comes from.

    So has a tall order to fill — do something different in journalism, write truly insightful stuff that will help people know what’s going on. There is an institutional inertia that MinnPost editors and writers will have to fight against — the institutional journalistic bias that there is some objective way to tell a story. Most of the people at MinnPost come from the old institutions of journalism. If they can create something new — well-reported, authoritative and insightful journalism that calls it like the reporter sees it — I’ll read every day and applaud.

    (Disclosure, I’ve done some volunteer work for to help get the word out.)

  3. bbenidt says:

    Gary, I think what I’m looking for is leaving behind the idea that there is a split between news and analysis.

    Good reporting always does analysis, or it’s transcription.

    In the old world of journalism, if a reporter put in a story some of his or her insight gained from knowledge of the subject, editors’ sphincters would tighten and they’d slap an “analysis” bug on the copy to make themselves feel protected. Protected from what? From dropping the pretense that we can report “just the facts.”

  4. Perhaps the most valuable, or at least unique, part of MinnPost will be its news filter. The site is only going to have, what, a dozen or so new stories per day? I *love* that. The stories won’t always be wildly fascinating to everyone at all times, but damn it, they’re going to be good for what they are.

    Also, the goal, if I may be so bold as put words in a certain publisher’s mouth, is not to grow a general audience more and more (by, in part, covering American Idol or Paris Hilton as if it makes a damn bit of a difference in anyone’s life) but to make a very specific audience (people who really care about really important or interesting stories) happier and happier.

    Considering that cable news hasn’t shut up about O.J. Simpson for the past 48 hours, that’s appealing as hell.

  5. ghornseth says:

    Agreed on many counts, Benidt, but I’ll depart from you in that I’m not looking to leave behind the news/analysis split.

    I’m usually the last guy to get hung up on objectivity and I could not be more bored with media bias arguments. But “just the facts” reporting, messy and inexact and biased as it inevitably is, remains a pretty decent method of presenting stuff to people.

    I’m hoping MinnPost’s reporting firepower gets turned loose on good, old-school reporting of stuff that’s not getting anywhere near local news outlets today.

    To be honest, that excites me way more than any single reporter’s interpretation of an issue, no matter how informed or qualified or anti-bullshit or smart or irascible he or she may be.

    I respect the hard-earned knowledge and the depth that beat reporters possess. I’ll be interested in their analysis, sure. But I think there’s an abundance of analysis surrounding us from really smart, informed people. What we’re lacking, and what these guys seem so primed to nail, is the skillful provision of important raw material for the rest of us to analyze and act upon on our own or with others.

    My neighborhood paper, the Villager, does this like crazy. The issue that hit my doorstep yesterday has well-reported stories on planned University Avenue transit stops, environmental testing at the Ford Plant, attempts to save neighborhood rec centers under threat of closure, an attempt to slot a Trader Joe’s at Randolph and Lexington, etc. This is stuff I cant get elsewhere that I can act on. It’s also reported in the dusty old inverted pyramid style without a whit of analysis, even though most of these issues are at least moderately controversial. Works for me.

  6. Jimbo says:

    MinnComPost is unreadable. As a commercially viable endeavor, it’s a slow-motion train wreck. It’s more proof that new media can’t succeed with legacy olde media people at the helm. I give it 6 months.

  7. Jimbo says:

    “Unreadable” was too harsh. Sorry.

    But it’s effectively City Pages 2.0 – it’s undifferentiated.

    The MinnPost model will fail unless it gets extra hyper-local, real fast. It will also need a much heavier element of breaking news.

  8. jloveland says:

    Thanks Jimbo. I wasn’t being critical. I just was interested in your specific take on it.

    I agree about the local part. They’re spread pretty thin, and I would think local would be their bread and butter for keeping most people engaged.

    I’m less convinced about the breaking news part. Can they really do that better than the better resourced mainstream media? If they can’t, should they concede that ground?

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