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

Letter to the Editor: We need to support this paper

I moved to Cloquet upon retiring in 2017. I had previously lived in Chanhassen/Chaska, which were served by capable “local” newspapers. These papers and others were owned and operated by Southwest News Media. While having one company operating several regional papers made good economic sense (fewer staff, lower overhead, ability to sell ads in multiple papers, shared columns, etc.), it did so at the expense of each paper losing a bit of its truly local flavor.

Shortly after I moved here, I was shocked to hear that Cloquet was getting its own, totally local newspaper, in spite of already having a “local” paper run by the Duluth News Tribune. In an environment where print media was either shrinking or vanishing, this was such unbelievable news that I promptly drove over the new offices of that paper, this very Pine Knot News, to see for myself.

I met the editor, Jana Peterson, and found her to be confident in this new endeavor, as well as being a seasoned, intelligent, and affable editor. Since that time, I’ve gotten to know many of the people involved, and have been impressed by their dedication to local journalism in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

The product of their work soon became apparent, as in a few short years they’ve won numerous journalism awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association. They survived the loss of ad revenue during Covid, and, as I understand it, are finally operating in the black.

Regular readers of this paper know all of this. But the reason I wanted to write this is that just last month, I learned that Southwest News Media is going out of business. That means several southwest suburbs of Minneapolis (all significantly more populated and prosperous than Cloquet so, conceivably, more capable of supporting a local paper) will be without coverage of their local issues, schools, sports, interesting local citizens, and what their local leaders are doing.

Newspapers closing is, of course, not surprising news anymore.

What hit home for me was when it happened to papers I had had as my local news source for many years. It made me even more keenly aware of how fortunate we are to have such a high-quality paper succeeding in our small town. We take them for granted at our own peril. So, if you don’t subscribe, please do so. If you’re a local business, please advertise with the Pine Knot. If you have a skill that could help them (writing, photography, etc.), please share that skill with them.

A small local paper like this is truly a community effort, and we all benefit.

Mark Cline, Scanlon

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