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Minnesota Independent staffer says news site is shutting down

Update: American Independent CEO David Bennahum confirmed Minnesota Independent’s closure 45 minutes after this was published. No word on anything involving Media Matters. Sites in Michigan and New Mexico will also be closed.

Minnesota Independent editor/reporter Jon Collins says he has been laid off and that the parent organization American Independent News Network will close the local and other state sites.

“American Independent executives laid me off in a call this afternoon,” Collins confirms. “They said they’re closing Minnesota and some the other Independent sites around the country because of a merger with Media Matters. I don’t really know many details of the hows or whys.”

Media Matters spokeswoman Jess Levin was surprised by the news. “If that’s true, it’s news to me,” she says.

The local site, one of Minnesota’s first online-only news organizations, has nabbed some of the state’s biggest journalism awards, including the Premack for coverage of civic affairs. However, in recent years, MnIndy has cut staff, from roughly a half-dozen regulars down to two, Collins and Andy Birkey.

In July, local pastor Bradlee Dean announced a lawsuit against Minnesota Independent, Birkey and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for defamation after the MnIndy ran a story headlined “GOP-linked punk rock ministry says executing gays is ‘moral.’ “

American Independent execs have called the suit (which also cites harm to Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign) “completely without merit.” Still, last week, MnIndy was running on-site ads seeking contributions to a legal defense fund.

Birkey referred questions to Hanaa Rifaey, American Independent’s publisher. Asked to confirm the closure, Rifaey said only, “We’d be happy to take questions tomorrow. Today is not the best day.”

Collins says he was told Minnesota was being shut down because it lacked a dedicated stream of funding. “We were always the top-performing site in the network,” he adds.

American Independent also lists sites in Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Marc Allen on 11/16/2011 - 02:35 pm.

    Huge bummer. Jon is a fantastic journalist. Here’s hoping one of the local publications has half a brain to offer him a job.

  2. Submitted by Shannon Drury on 11/16/2011 - 02:49 pm.

    Updated info:

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/16/2011 - 02:54 pm.

    Either Soros is banking some cash with an eye towards the 2012 election (keeping his Sec’s of State in office could be spendy this time), or the thought that Bradlee Dean might, at any time soon, be using a fat SorosCheque(C) to “spread the word” is just too much for him.

    In either case, I wonder how long it will be before the newly unemployed will begin airing their dirty laundry? Last time they were over here within an hour!

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/16/2011 - 03:26 pm.

    When they banned me from their site, I’m sure their traffic numbers took a beating.

  5. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 11/16/2011 - 10:15 pm.

    Icing in the cake: TC Daily Planet and E-Democracy closes.

  6. Submitted by Mike Izon on 11/16/2011 - 10:49 pm.

    It’s because of the lawsuit. They know they will lose and you can’t get money from a news organization that isn’t making money anyways. It’s a good excuse, instead of saying “we suck and weren’t fair in our reporting”. Media matters is no better and hopefully will soon shut down also. They both are not even close at giving the people the news.Have not read a peep about Obama’s mistakes in giving speech’s.Yet we heard plenty(day after day after day) about untrue things about Cain,Perry,Michele,and others who don’t fit their liberal agenda.

  7. Submitted by Tim O'Brien on 11/17/2011 - 04:00 am.

    I love how Thomas Swift has no problem with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes owning newspapers and running networks,but one small online operation that may or may not view the news with a progressive viewpoint is proof of liberal bias. Andy Birkey, a staffer for the Independent, is far too valuable to be lost because of dwindling funds. Journalism, and an uninformed public, needs people like him.

    Thomas Swift, keep looking for that birth certificate.

  8. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 11/17/2011 - 06:35 am.

    Don’t worry, Mr. O’Brien. After Mr. Soetero leaves office, we’ll find out who he really is, aside from someone that absolved Collective White Guilt(tm).

  9. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/17/2011 - 07:02 am.

    #7 – I don’t wish to put words in Mr. Swift’s mouth but I believe his issue is not that the Minnesota Independent existed, but rather they exist under the guise of 501(c)(3). If you wish to publish a specific political agenda at least have the decency to not siphon resources away from non-profits that add value to society.

  10. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 11/17/2011 - 08:20 am.

    Sorry, Izon. Even a 1st year law student knows it’s a legal impossibility to defame Bradley Dean. It’s impossible to use any demeaning adjective that isn’t also spot on.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/17/2011 - 09:48 am.

    Tim, how do we know that Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes own newspapers and run networks? They tell us so, don’t they.

    Then we have MediaMatters, the Center Independent Media and all the other 501(c)(3)front groups which are set up for the sole purpose of shielding Soros’ controlling interest.

    It’s not MinneSoros’ leftist amphigory that bothered me, it’s the scurrilous nature of Soros’ activities I find objectionable.

  12. Submitted by Erica Mauter on 11/17/2011 - 09:49 am.

    If they can’t figure out how to adequately fund the best performing site in the network… I’m curious if it’s geographical or an admission of failure of the business model or what.

  13. Submitted by John Edwards on 11/21/2011 - 04:55 am.

    I find it interesting that MinnPost “journalist” David Brauer did not find room to mention the clear liberal bias of the Minnesota Independent.
    It is a political organ. That it won a Premack tells much about the group that sponsors that award.

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