From Mole to Monitor

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Steve Perry has big plans for the Minnesota Monitor. Perry says he will be “looking for people who can cultivate news beats that will survive the election,” such as intensive coverage of city hall in Minneapolis and St. Paul. “I want to explore a lot of the stories that the dailies lack the nerve or the resources to do.”

His plans for the Minnesota Monitor, one of five civic journalism Web sites around the country set up by the Center for Independent Media, also include involving more community voices, and adding audio and video components.

Perry comes to the Minnesota Monitor from the Daily Mole, his own Web site which, he says cheerfully, was intended to be a full-blown entrepreneurial start-up, employing three or four people, but ran out of investment dollars before it could really take off. He founded the Daily Mole after leaving City Pages a year ago after its purchase by a much-larger corporate media operation. Since then, City Pages has seen budget slashing and a near-complete news staff turnover.

In the informal give-and-take of the February TC Media Alliance Lunch with a Journalist series, Perry talked about a variety of topics.

On newspapers and on-line journalism:

It costs about five cents to the dollar to reach a consumer on-line as compared to in print. I worry that what we are seeing as newspapers become less viable economically is the wholesale decapitalization of news gathering. Broadcast is there, on-line is there, but none of them are sources of enterprise and investigative reporting. … News gathering still depends on grunt work and rockbreaking by news reporters.

On his career in journalism:

As a journalist, I want to be writing in 30 years, because at this point there’s no prospect that I’ll make enough to retire. Our business is in a depression, in a sense that it’s structurally downgraded and it’s probably not coming back to the kind of livelihood that some of us who have worked in it are accustomed to. The trade-off for that is that it’s a lot of fun.

On what a progressive point of view means:

I think often the term progressive is a synonym for the Democratic party, which in this day and age is not progressive. What I want is news reporting, political reporting and news and political analysis that come from a left, populist point of view, that pose questions on behalf of popular interest that are not raised day to day to political interests that are dominated by a plutocracy of money.

As editor, publisher and writer of the eclectic, engaging Daily Mole, Perry brought “Dude Weather” to the Twin Cities, along with passionate, fact-filled coverage of the Minneapolis Police Department’s still-unfolding drama. The passion and playfulness that made a good mix at the Daily Mole should make the Minnesota Monitor even more interesting in the months ahead.

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