Tour the Scenic Range, explore the issues of our times

Last week I began an exciting new endeavor that marries this fancy, 21st century blog with a small town weekly newspaper. (Or, as the kids say, we’re going to hook up somewhat regularly for the foreseeable future). Electrons and ink! Quaint small town meeting notices and snark from around the globe! Every month I’ll be writing news analysis pieces for the Scenic Range News Forum, a growing weekly paper that covers the swath of western Iron Range towns from Coleraine to Keewatin — essentially the Itasca County portion of the Range. The “Scenic” is the only source of news about the fast-growing rural townships just north of the iron formation where I live.

What does “news analysis” mean? Well, that’s to say that it won’t be a column and it won’t be a straight news story either. Ask the Associated Press. They’ve been running this game for decades. I’ve been given free reign to identify issues that affect people on the Iron Range and explore them, not necessarily to form conclusions but to get people thinking and working to solve problems. I am not without my conflicts of interest but I am nonetheless in a unique position to gather and share information. I aim to do so responsibly.

My first piece, “Wanted: Young People,” ran Thursday, March 11, 2010, and focused on demographic change on the Iron Range. For instance, you might be surprised to know that the population of the Iron Range, particularly in Itasca County, is actually growing. School enrollment, however, is shrinking at a dangerous rate. The changing demographics of the region actually cause most of the major political and social problems Iron Rangers have complained about since the 1980s. Read more.

Meantime, I’ll still be writing original weekly columns for the Hibbing Daily Tribune and commentary for KAXE-Northern Community Radio. My burgeoning, deeply unprofitable media empire will soon be somewhat less stoppable.

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