Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

With gratitude for community newspapers April 15, 2020

Published in the Faribault Daily News in August 2017 as part of a “Whiteout” campaign by Minnesota newspapers during Minnesota Newspaper Week. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


NOW, MORE THAN EVER, our community newspapers need our support. They, like so many businesses, have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

Ad revenue has plummeted due to business closures. One only need page through a local newspaper to notice the drop. Advertising, and subscriptions, pay expenses from printing to payroll.


The Faribault Daily News on my front steps, when it was still delivered by carrier. Today the paper lands in my mailbox, delivered by the post office. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Already in Minnesota, several newspaper—The Hastings Star-Gazette and the Bulletin, serving Woodbury and Cottage Grove and owned by River Town Multimedia—will cease publication in early May. In Fargo/Moorhead, The Forum is no longer publishing a print paper on Mondays and Fridays.

In my community and throughout the region, Adams Publishing Group employees’ hours have been cut. And more. I’ve lost work as a freelancer and columnist for an APG arts/entertainment/lifestyle magazine that has temporarily suspended publication.

I view this issue from an insider perspective, having earned a degree in journalism and with experience as a small town newspaper reporter and photographer, albeit decades ago. I understand the importance of community journalism. I understand how hard these reporters and editors work to bring you local news. I understand the long and odd hours and the low pay. I’ve been there. Now, more than ever, newspapers are an essential business in keeping communities informed.


Published as part of the “Whiteout” campaign in 2017. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


Journalists commit to bringing you the stories that matter in your community. Think about that for a moment. Stories that matter in your community. The feel-good stories. The watchdog stories about public meetings. The hard news. Only in a local paper will you see those stories and photos targeted specifically for your community or region.


The front page of the Faribault Daily News following a devastating tornado in September 2018. Local news found only in community newspapers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.


I am grateful to the reporters, editors, page designers, ad reps and more at my local paper, the Faribault Daily News, who continue to invest their time and energy in community journalism. All too often, people criticize their work. Complain. Please, don’t kill the messenger who delivers bad news, along with the good. The reporter is just doing his/her job.

Rather, we should be grateful. We should thank these hard-working men and women for all they do. And today that means making sense of COVID-19 on a local level—writing about locals sewing face masks, hospital staff cuts and, yes, even the difficult stories about people infected with the virus. You won’t necessarily hear or read those stories in other media outlets. Our community newspapers are just that, all about community. Your community.

Please support community journalism by subscribing to your local newspaper, by purchasing ads (if your budget and situation allow), by saying “thank you.”


What if your community lost its newspaper? This is the front page of the Faribault Daily News during the 2017 “Whiteout” campaign. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


FYI: I invite you to read my August 2017 post about a “Whiteout” campaign by 200 Minnesota newspapers reminding people about the importance of local newspapers in their communities. It’s worth a read. Click here. And remember that a free press is a vital part of our democracy. We need reporters asking tough questions, gathering information and presenting the facts.

JOIN ME in expressing your gratitude for community newspapers in the comments section below. Tell me what you appreciate about your local newspaper and those who work there. Thank you.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “With gratitude for community newspapers”

  1. I love community newspapers because it keeps me informed within the area I live. It also informs me how to get involved and engaged within my community. I love supporting the small businesses too. Free press is something we need for democracy too. Be it the newspapers, blogs, social media, etc. It matters! Thanks so much in bringing this to light today – much needed reminder for sure. Be Safe and Take Care 🙂

  2. S Rook Says:

    Thank you, Audrey.

  3. Charles Ziegler Says:

    My father was born in Sheridan Township (near Belview) in Redwood County in 1911. We lived in New Jersey when I was growing up, and during all that time, as I recall, he would continue to subscribe to “The Redwood Gazette”, which would be delivered via USPS.

    • The Gazette was the newspaper of my childhood, too. And I’m quite familiar with Sheridan Township. I’m curious as to what took your father all the way from rural sw MN to New Jersey.

      • Charles Ziegler Says:

        World War II brought my father to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, prior to shipping out to Europe. He met the lady who would be his wife and my mother there. I sometimes say that I exist only because of Adolf Hitler; I don’t believe that my parents would have met otherwise, as neither would have traveled to where the other lived in normal circumstances.

      • I agree. That’s why I asked how your Minnesota dad ended up permanently on the East Coast.

  4. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I absolutely support journalism both locally and globally – free, independent, observers of what is happening everywhere. This is so necessary, and so under-appreciated by those who would use the media for political gain rather than accountability to the community. We must have a free, independent press that serves to inform all of us without rancor, without bias, and with objectivity.

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