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Another neighborhood paper bites the dust

Minneapolis’ The Bridge (formerly the Seward Profile and Southeast Angle) goes online only.

The monthly publication employed some great journalists over the years, including Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller and current editor Jeremy Stratton.

It’s always been a tough go in the neighborhoods, especially the Bridge’s, and publishers Triangle Park Creative deserve a hearty pat on the back for all their hard work over the years.

Still, despite publisher Becky Clawson’s upbeat words about the environmentalism of dumping newsprint and the freedom from space and deadline restrictions, I’ve always believed online revenues are just too puny at the ultra-local level to support even the barest of payrolls.

For many at the neighborhood-paper level, journalism is a labor of love, and lovin’ can go a long way on the web. But whether at the Bridge’s site or some node yet to come, this will be another test of how a community gets news when a print operation withers.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by David Skarjune on 04/30/2009 - 01:21 pm.

    Not much of a surprise, given that their amount of ads shrunk while their region expanded. Plus, Seward Neighborhood Group was the original backer, and they barely exist today after a period of fraud-like mismanagement. Also, Triangle Park Creative has completed a transformation from a graphic design shop to a web shop primarily using automated Content Management Systems–paper means nothing to them beyond added expense. However, as the designers of TC Daily Planet, they have a good grasp of user-generated content and citizen journalism, so they should be able to keep things alive. But will long-time neighborhood contributors like Cyn Collins (West Bank Boogie author) work for free or just follow their own blogosphere paths?

  2. Submitted by Jane McClure on 04/30/2009 - 02:25 pm.

    I hate to see The Bridge go online only. It’s everything a neighborhood paper should be. Good luck to everyone there.
    And please don’t sell Triangle Park short and say paper means nothing to them. The folks I’ve known there have always been supportive of print media and I’m sure this was a hard decision for them.

  3. Submitted by Dan Nordley on 04/30/2009 - 05:26 pm.

    Hey David,

    Gee, thanks for scooping us on our own story. See? This is one of the reasons why we need to transition to the web.

    Yes, we are brave, but also very talented and dedicated. The crisis of advertising dropping 30% has made the move a bit more urgent — OK, a lot more urgent — but an online publication as a community-building device just makes a heckuva lot more sense.

    Putting The Bridge online is really a fast-tracked step toward the future, and we think we are doing anything but biting the dust. The only staff hours being cut are in page layout. Our editor, Jeremy Stratton will be working the same hours, as will Cindy Collins, our ad rep and our publisher, Becky Clawson.

    The Southeast Publications nonprofit board will still be providing its critical support and oversight, and we are hearing some encouraging reactions from the hundreds of advertisers who have supported us over the last twenty years and can now continue to do so, but less expensively.

    We will miss sitting with a paper in our lap at the coffee shop, but we won’t miss the limitations of 8 pages of storytelling space once per month, and the increasingly harder-to-justify act of distributing 10,000 pounds of paper around the ‘hood.

    Honestly, in the twenty years I’ve provided a home and publishing resources to the lineage of The Bridge, I’ve never been so jazzed at the potential of fulfilling the base mission of the publication–to build community in the geographic area we serve. This is going to be fun.

    And as commenter #1 noted, Triangle Park Creative has added web design to its communication design services (We still do lots of print, BTW.), and we are thankful we can continue to support the project in some cool ways. We will all learn from this.

    So, I encourage all readers of David’s blog to sign up as an online subscriber (or curiosity seeker) to The Bridge and watch the progress we make. Lots of changes coming. (org, com, net). We believe a key to our effort will be to register a critical mass of subscribers — we’re thinking, 7,500-10,000. I think that’s about half of David’s blog and Facebook followers.

  4. Submitted by David Skarjune on 04/30/2009 - 08:56 pm.

    Jane is right, TPC has been supportive of print, but Dan does lament “the increasingly harder-to-justify act of distributing 10,000 pounds of paper around the ‘hood.” (I wonder how long Ed Felien can keep it up…) I will miss the Bridge, it’s a great paper. Mostly, I wanted to point out that they are doing the work to make the transition. Their work for Twin Cities Daily Planet speaks for itself.

    BTW, I do not follow Twitter, I go to the library and peruse things on PAPER. Damn, I miss Shiners…

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