A one-newspaper town? (5×8 – 4/18/11)

Can the Twin Cities support two papers, Nick’s autism, disasters up close, the beauty of the mountain, and evaporating clouds of video.

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Is it time to start the death watch for the Pioneer Press? The answer may come from Orange County, California. MinnPost’s John Reinan paints a scenario that has the St. Paul paper’s boss disposing of the local paper if it decides to pick up some heftier California papers. The Star Tribune, he figures, makes a logical buyer because it’s business isn’t so hot, either.

While the Star Tribune made a good showing in 2010, it’s off to a slow start in 2011, as my MinnPost colleague David Brauer has reported. That could strengthen the case for the federal Justice Department approval that would be required for any kind of merger or takeover.

Coincidentally, New York Times media columnist David Carr used the same guy’s reporting — Brauer’s — to paint a picture of good times at the Star Tribune in his Sunday column profile about the StarTribune’s local-boy publisher.

The reason the company had profits to share is that while ad revenue was down 9 percent in 2010, it was far less than the 15 percent that had been budgeted. According to David Brauer, who covers the paper for MinnPost, a local news site, the difference yielded more than $30 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2010. And daily circulation has remained essentially flat even though the price of the daily newspaper was raised to 75 cents from 50 cents in May. The Sunday newspaper, which did not increase in price, has gone from a low of about 477,000 in September 2009 to 504,600 in September 2010, according to audit reports.

Can the Twin Cities continue to be a two-newspaper town? Would it matter to you? Discuss.


Robert MacNeil makes his return to PBS tonight, thanks in part to his grandson, who is autistic. “I’ve been a reporter on and off for 50 years, but I’ve never brought my family into a story, until Nick, because he moves me deeply,” MacNeil says in the first of a six part series that airs on PBS tonight. “Also because I think his story can help people understand his form of autism and help me understand it better.”

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.


This may be the most horrifying video of the tsunami in Japan yet.

Over the weekend, at least 22 people were killed by tornadoes. Over 40 people have died in tornadoes since Thursday. Just look at these images from the New York Times.


How can a world that can be so ugly, also be so beautiful?

Filmmaker Terje Sorgjerd set up cameras on El Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, from April 4th to 11th. The object was to take a time-lapse video of the Milky Way. However, a sand storm blew in from the Sahara desert. Sorgjerd assumed his project had been ruined, but was pleased with the resulting video. (h/t: Neatorama)

The Mountainfrom Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.


Colleague Julia Schrenkler alerts us to the disappearance of your videos from Google. Google Video is shutting down. They’ll no longer be available for playback after two weeks from Friday. You have until next month to download them.

Bonus: The new Twins ad.


This weekend saw the premiere of the film treatment of “Atlas Shrugged,” a book that many readers say was influential in their lives. Today’s Question: What single book was most influential in your life?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The debate over the debt ceiling. MPR’s Tom Crann is hosting today.

Second hour: A new production at the Penumbra Theater examines the significance of the Nat King Cole Show, one of the first network TV programs hosted by an African American, and the role its star played in the modern civil rights era.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk recap the legislative work so far.

Second hour: MPR Bright Ideas series: Stephen Smith interviews Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The road to foreclosure.

Second hour:Being black in Latin America.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – With the rise of both farm income and concerns about federal deficits, congressional leaders say it is likely farm subsidies will get a haircut in the 2012 budget. MPR’s Mark Steil will assess the impact.

  • milojo

    As a daily subscriber to the Pioneer Press and resident of St. Paul, it would matter to me. I would miss the focus on St. Paul news, the columnists, the Bulletin Board, Saturday’s Sainted and Tainted…the local stuff, plus great delivery service (on the top step everyday, which is something the Star Tribune always had trouble with).

  • Mitch

    KT Tunstall on the heels of Brandi Carlile. I like the direction the Monday Rouser is headed.

  • BJ

    agreed. Rouser was just want I needed, but most weeks it is.

    PS The rouser is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back 🙂

  • Bob Moffitt

    I saw Robert MacNeil on CNN this AM, citing vaccinations as a possible cause for his grandson’s autism. Really, PBS?

    This raises a red flag for me. Was MacNeil right to do this series on autism? Can even a journalist of his experience and quality trust themselve to tell this story? The producer of the series also has a child with autism, CNN reported.

    So who edits and reviews the content of this series? Every family of a child with autism may come up with their own opinions and ideas on why their child has the condition, and others don’t. When science can’t come up with a definative answer, quacks like Andrew Wakefield thrive.

    Your thoughts, Bob? Should journalists report on their own families?

  • Bob Collins

    //Should journalists report on their own families?

    Without commenting on autism per se, I think the situation illuminates a reality of the news media. It reports on those things that most likely personally affect it.

    WRT to vaccinations and autism, I’ll wait to watch the entire series before I judge MacNeil’s work.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Thanks, Bob.

    The beauty of The Mountain video brought tears to my eyes, and the Twins ad made me laugh.

    I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

  • Bob Moffitt

    “… I’ll wait to watch the entire series before I judge MacNeil’s work.”

    Well, sure, if you want to be all FAIR and everything..(g)

  • Jamie

    // “Well, sure, if you want to be all FAIR and everything…” //

    Ha! I love this blog.