Will MPR save journalism?

I assure you I’m neither the first nor the last keyboard jockey to ask this post’s titular question, but this article from Ken Doctor has me thinking again about it. (In fact, last time I was on this kick, I was writing about NPR and, a quick check reveals, I used an awfully similar headline.)

Public radio and its audience is growing like weeds — highly literate, well-informed weeds — and Minnesota’s public radio outlet is one of the true trailblazers. And let’s not put too much stock in that whole “radio” label. I listen to a ton of MPR on 91.1 FM, but that’s but a fraction of the content the organization called Minnesota Public Radio pumps out.

It’s hard to deny that, in this age of online journalism and audience engagement through social media, MPR is doing great work. And I’m sure that will continue. But will MPR continue on a path of impressive, intelligent growth?

I can’t help but wonder if much of the growth is simply a matter of MPR just catching up to where it should have been all along. Freed from its radio-only past, perhaps MPR’s new, larger audience is just a reflection of the potential it always had, rather than some “my ever-skinnier newspaper isn’t getting the job done” exodus to MPR. So now that they’re (potentially, theoretically) reaching that point of equilibrium, is there more growth to be had?

As the Star Tribune “bristles at MPR’s ambition,” I look forward to the fight. With any luck, it’ll make ’em all — the Strib, the PiPress, MinnPost, everyone — stronger.

Photo courtesy of .nate via Flickr

7 thoughts on “Will MPR save journalism?

  1. PM says:

    Hah! MPR is simply a hollow shell that will collapse once light rail rattles it into submission!!! Light rail is the secret weapon of the Strib, the trojan horse that will destroy MPR once and for all!!!

    (excuse my derangement, please…)

    1. Those are links to people who mention (and link to) this post on Twitter. I wish I had more control over how those were displayed, but they just come in like that. It’s a little clumsy, but I like catching it.

  2. bruce benidt says:

    When MPR held a conference on the future of news last week, the Strib’s head businessearthling (clearly not its top journalist) said MPR was creating a “sense of false crisis” with the conference. Damn thin-skinned. There is a crisis, for all of us, in what’s happening to newspapers.

    MPR, good as it is, has a small fraction of the reporters the Strib has. It takes feet walking into offices and checking daily logs and reports, fingers dialing and asking questions, fingers digging into information online, voices asking hundreds of questions in each interview — it takes well-trained, motivated, smart, irreverent journalists, and lots of them, to give the public the information we need to know what’s happening in government, business, education, non-profits, our communities, all over.

    Can MPR grow? Yes, and I hope it does. Can it grow to the point where it has hundreds of journalists? If it finds the solution to how to pull together audiences and make money doing it, they can. It’s a hard pull so far, but I applaud anyone who’s growing news organizations and supporting real journalism.

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