KAXE/KBXE passes hat for journalism

Word NEWS in Old Typewriter Typebar Letters Isolated on White We all know the field of journalism has changed dramatically in the past two decades.

Do we have to rehash this? The corporate consolidations and rise of the internet? The buy-outs and downsizing? The tendrils of public relations and marketing reaching into the minds of young people, snatching away the best talent for the most banal purposes?

I went to UW-Superior for journalism. UWS cut our program after I graduated, and then yesterday announced huge cuts in the graduate communication program where I got my advanced degree. Anyway, that all happened, and now no one knows what the hell is going on in our towns, counties or states. Big stuff happening everywhere, and most people find out about it in TV ads paid for by people doing the stuff.

Well, today brings an interesting twist to the status of journalism here in northern Minnesota. Northern Community Radio, which operates KAXE in Grand Rapids, Brainerd and Ely and KBXE in Bemidji, is holding a one-day fundraiser today for one reason: journalism.

“Journalism is expensive to do right,” said Heidi Holtan, Northern Community Radio program director. “It’s part of our long term goal to raise money to have journalists working both of our studios to cover the stories that matter to northern Minnesota. But this summer we have the opportunity to hire 2-3 journalists to cover stories we think need to be covered.”

The station is holding a special fundraiser to kick start its effort to put more journalists into the communities served by this independent public station. NCR produces and distributes my Great Northern Radio Show and I’ve done contract work and volunteer spots for them for more than a decade. I’ve come to believe this organization is charting a way forward for local media in a globalized world.

I’m excited for them to start this new project if only for the fact that some top notch Minnesota reporters will have license to tackle important stories in a place where big issues are bubbling over.

Tune in to KAXE and KBXE today to hear the pitch, which will include an exploration of some of the projects the station plans. Among the initial ideas: deeper analysis of northern Minnesota’s economy, including poverty, mining, forestry and technology. Also, better understanding of the many pipeline and transmission projects criss-crossing the region.

The best example of the amazing work this station is capable of producing is this series, “Invisible by Design.” Holtan and John Bauer explored the issue of domestic violence with a series of intimate interviews with victims. It was some of the most powerful, heartbreaking and hopeful insight on this overlooked issue I’ve ever heard. This is the kind of impact this station wants to have on a spectrum of issues.

If you care about fair, multi-source, diverse understanding of the world around us, help Northern Community Radio scrape together a few bucks today.

Worst case scenario, some journalists get paid. Lord knows that ain’t easy to make happen.

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