For our last 50 years, northern Minnesota rural communities and their local newspapers have been the centers of our lives.
Looking back, they include the Thief River Falls Times, Roseau Times Region, Warroad Pioneer, Williams Northern Light, Baudette Region, Bovey Scenic Range News, Grand Rapids Herald Review, and for the last eight years, the Chronicle.
I wonder if other small-town readers feel the same? Things I turned to first in the Chronicle were Lake County Past; Two Harbors and Silver Bay High School sports and honor rolls; county budgets and news; library happenings; Lake Superior shipping, state park and other natural resources news; guest articles by pastors; and volunteer opportunities.
On the opinion page, I turned to the spectacular legal stories by James Manahan and the climate change and natural resources columns by Katya Gordon.
Some locals knew when the Chronicle became part of Forum Communications it was the death knell. Then a “For Sale” sign appeared in front of the old Chronicle office. No longer was there a genuine “hometown” newspaper. Advertisers left. Circulation declined. Legal notices stopped. Decisions were made at the corporate level. How sad.
All North Shore communities, including Finland and Isabella, are known for their volunteerism. Wonderful examples are our AEOA, Community Partners, libraries, historical centers, food shelf, Knife River Recreation Council and many others. So what if a few folks and groups assembled and put together a newspaper that was an extended Chronicle? Yes, the team effort would take lots of work. Initially, the effort might not break even, maybe even lose for a while.
Likely the current circulation list could be obtained? Perhaps some legal maneuvering to retain the Chronicle name? Someone to sell a few ads to our great local businesses? And use coupon specials to judge ad effectiveness? Perhaps a few start-up donations to get things going? Could it be done?
Perhaps an enthusiastic seed has been planted.