Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


What it takes to deliver in-depth reporting

MinnPost data reporter Greta Kaul
MinnPost photo by Tanner Curl
MinnPost data reporter Greta Kaul

When you support MinnPost, you’re supporting the hardworking reporters in our nonprofit newsroom. What does that work look like? We asked Greta Kaul, our data reporter, to give a rundown of a typical day.

If you value what Greta or any of our talented journalists do to help you understand the context behind the headlines, we hope you’ll be one of 125 new/renewing members who’ll donate by June 30 to help us hit our summer drive goal.


And without further ado, we give you a day in the life of Greta…

Howdy, I’m Greta, MinnPost’s data reporter.

I have kind of an oddball job at MinnPost. Each of my fellow MinnPost reporters have what’s called a beat — whether that’s state government, D.C., local government, education, the environment or jobs. They follow what’s going on in those areas and write stories when something’s newsworthy or interesting.

I don’t really have a beat. I just write about numbers.

Sometimes, my job’s driven by the news cycle, especially during elections, when I spend a lot of time looking at campaign spending and analyzing how different parts of Minnesota are likely to vote.

But otherwise, what I write about is driven largely by curiosity — whatever questions I have when I read the news or things I find odd. Usually, I find that if I have questions, readers have them, too.

Here’s what a recent day was like for me:


Wake up, read the news and fact check

Speaking of things I was curious about, I recently read that counties across the U.S. have seen a spike in indigent burials and thought I’d see if it’s happening in Minnesota. Apparently, it is. So I wrote about it, and that story’s running today. When I have a story set to publish on a given day, I like to get up early and check all the numbers, name spellings and facts over coffee. When it’s nice out, like today, I do that — and read the morning’s news — on my front porch.

Into the office 

MinnPost has a robot in a chat channel called MinnBot that lets us DJ from our desks. I fire up a few songs from Rolling Thunder Revue, the new Bob Dylan doc by Martin Scorcese. Apparently, a lot of the movie was fabricated, but the performances in it are 💯.

Makin’ calls

My colleague Walker and I have a call with someone who analyzes data on Minnesota’s workforce. We’re trying to figure out the best way to crunch a big dataset we got from the state. I find that asking people who are familiar with data what they would look for in it is one of the best ways to get cracking on finding stories in numbers.

Makin’ more calls

Time for a meeting by phone with the county and a researcher at the University of Minnesota. We’re trying to figure out an agreement so we can build out a cool visualization of some data.

Publish time

After a few final questions about my story on county burials from editors, the piece goes up online.

I make some calls and send some emails for next week’s stories. Reporters spend a lot of time hoping people will get back to them soon and hounding people who don’t.

A quick break here to say that if you appreciate the work that Greta and all of our reporters do, will you make a donation to MinnPost today?


Okay, back to Greta…


I’ve spent lots of time outside after work this week and not a lot of time making things to eat for lunch. As a result, I’ve eaten less-than-healthy, especially this week — the office has been Sun Chips city. Guess it’s an overpriced and underwhelming salad from the grocery store for lunch kind of day. 


Interview with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

I’m working on a story for next week about the state’s new program to help dairy farmers, who are struggling to stay afloat amid a longer-than-usual downturn in their industry.  I talked to the Department of Ag about what the new program means for farmers.

MinnPost data reporter Greta Kaul
MinnPost photo by Tanner Curl
“I find that asking people who are familiar with data what they would look for in it is one of the best ways to get cracking on finding stories in numbers.”
Tying up loose ends

Next week is busy, with lots of stuff out of the office, so I answer emails, get everything in my calendar and catch up on news. Rumor has it there’s a happy hour brewin’.

Happy hour

Sometimes when it’s nice out, the MinnPost staff likes to duck out a little early on Friday for happy hour, especially if it’s on a patio. Bye! We’re headed to Elsie’s.


We need your help to keep up the critical in-depth reporting delivered by Greta and the rest of our reporters. If you believe in this work, will you donate to MinnPost today?

Reaching our member drive goal by June 30 is essential to providing these services in the coming months. We cannot do our work without your support.

Thank you to the many donors who have already shown their support during our Summer Member Drive!


Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/28/2019 - 04:35 pm.

    Making calls to the same hacks over and over again. Fact che – oh wait, never mind.

Leave a Reply