A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

From The Editor: Here, we practice e pluribus unum

When we started the Pine Knot News three years and three months ago, people in the newspaper industry noticed.

I think it was mostly shock — who was crazy enough to start a brand-new paper? — mixed in with a little bit of hope.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune sent a photographer and a reporter to our office in Cloquet, with our story told as part of a larger story focusing on the relative healthiness of newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. Minnesota Public Radio called, so did Business North, and Fox 21 in Duluth. The industry’s Editor & Publisher magazine wrote a short story with a photo. We weren’t delusional. We simply believed that Cloquet and all of Carlton County needed to have a solidly local newspaper that actually cared enough to have an office here, a place people could just drop in and find us, after the Journal closed up shop and moved out of town.

We had a good base of people to get us started. Five of us chipped in money to make it happen. Our brave and experienced employees took a leap of faith. Many freelance writers and photographers jumped on board. I met our current delivery driver, Joe French, at the Scanlon Kwik Trip (where he was buying the Pine Knot). Between us, our handful of employees have close to 100 years of media experience and our hearts are in it, which certainly contributes to our success in a big way.

But we have a secret sauce that I think makes the Pine Knot News more flavorful than many weekly newspapers: our local contributors. They are people who largely don’t come from a newspaper background, but they have something to say, stories they want to tell, and a desire to make their community a better place. Steve Korby, with his stories of people who live or grew up around here and their various adventures. Parnell Thill and his unique take on life in these times. The musical Mothy Soden-Groves, who said, “Why not write?” after he retired. The talented Francy Chammings, Greg Oakes, Tom Urbanski, Annie Dugan, Jennie Hanson, Leola Rodd, Kim Buskala (once, because she had a story she wanted to share) and many more. Others share their photographs: Dan Malkovich, Mike Farmer, John Dahlburg and Mark Cline. We found our newest talent, Amy Arntson, when two of our freelance photographers suddenly came down with Covid during football playoffs. Those are just a few.

Readers call with story ideas or feedback, which we love, positive or negative. They stop in the office, bring information, photos, stories they’ve written or just a desire to chat. People send tips via text, email and Facebook messenger. Advertisers have been wonderful. And the news never slows down.

Knowing that our newspaper helps tell the stories of Carlton County is the real reward, along with getting to know all the people who play a role in those stories.

The awards from our journalism peers, and even the Mills Trophy for being the most outstanding weekly in the state, are the icing on the cake. They’re nice, but the real satisfaction comes in building this newspaper together, as a community.

Like the motto e pluribus unum says: Out of many, one. One great paper.

Let’s keep it going.

Pine Knot News editor Jana Peterson has been covering Carlton County close to a dozen years. While she recovers from a torn hamstring, you won’t find her in the office for a while. Contact her at 218-213-1231 or [email protected].

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