Minn. newspaper uses empty front page to show community connection – Jamestown Sun

The front page of the 115-year-old newspaper was blank with the exception of its nameplate, a banner ad and a paragraph explaining how community newspapers keep locals aware of news, using the words “Without you, there is no newspaper!”

The page also carried the quote, “I’m a reflection of the community,” attributed to the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Publisher Rebecca Colden said she and her staff wanted to show readers the Pioneer relies on the state’s northern border community just as the community relies on the publication for news, adding the weekly “really is the people’s newspaper.”

“We just really wanted to show that people do rely on local newspapers,” she said. “We have readers that are just passionate about getting their paper every week.”

Columns and news articles were featured in the pages of the paper, but the publication used its second page to present facts about the newspaper, including a graph on production analysis and letters from readers. One called the paper “the front door of a community.

The Pioneer noted it has made significant cuts over the last five years to offset rising production expenses. The Warroad-based publication has four full-time and three part-time employees, compared with 10 workers about five years ago.

About 80 percent of the paper’s revenue comes from selling advertising, which has declined by $23,900 since 2011, according to the newspaper.

Colden has been told readers drift toward social media for free news and that the newspaper industry is dying. Colden said she doesn’t see that.

“We’re trying to get across … that we’re not a dying breed, and there are people behind us,” she said.

The Pioneer uses different media, including social media, to reach different audiences and to help other businesses, such as when it hosted an online auction.

The newspaper has about 1,200 subscriptions, but Colden said the number of people reading the newspaper well exceeds those figures: People may pick up a paper off the stands or read it at the library and other places.

“We’re a united force in small towns,” she said. “Let us be your cheerleader.”

Warroad has about 1,800 residents and is roughly 90 miles northeast of Thief River Falls.

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