Surrounded by the sold-out crowd of 48,514 Twins fans going to the last Metrodome home opener on April 6, staffers at the Star Tribune hoped to gain support to save the bankrupt newspaper.
“This is a perfect time to kick it off, couldn’t find a better time to kick it off than in front of loyal Twins fans most of whom are loyal Star Tribune fans,” Star Tribune investigative reporter Paul McEnroe said.
The Star Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. In an effort to gain community support, the >Save the Strib campaign launched a Web site on April 6 and handed out flyers to Twins fans going to the home opener.
“That’s what this is all about, we’re just here to tell people: there’s a place for us. We want to survive and we deserve to survive,” Star Tribune business reporter Chris Serres said.
The campaign was set up all around the Metrodome handing out leaflets and petitions for community members to sign and Star Tribune staffers were stationed to let people know they need their help.
The Web site was launched not only to let people know that the Star Tribune needs the community’s help to survive, but also to acknowledge that the internet is part of the newspaper too, that the Star Tribune is more than a newspaper. The Web site includes testimonials from editors, reporters and member of the Newspaper Guild as well as a comment section for readers and community members to share why they think the Star Tribune is an important resource.
“It’s the Newspaper Guild’s way of expressing to the community of the Twin Cities and the planet that newspapers are an endangered species and a community resource,” McEnroe said. “Anything that the people in the community can do to convey to a new buyer that the Star Tribune is profitable and indispensible part of this community, we’d appreciate it.”
McEnroe has worked at the Star Tribune for 29 years. He and Serres were holding a large “Save the Strib” sign parallel to the light rail and they waved to drivers of the trains and buses and they welcomed the supportive honks.
“People want different opinions, they don’t want just a one newspaper town they want all sorts of different opinions and if the Star Tribune voice goes silent, the whole community suffers,” McEnroe said. “Without that watchdog out there, the community suffers, and that’s why I’m out here, because I believe in it.”
Of course there is more to the campaign than just support; it is about money too. “We’re trying to also get the message out to anybody with deep pockets that they can be part of a very profitable newspaper operation,” McEnroe said.
Serres remains optimistic that we as a society will figure out how to save the newspaper. “With newspapers struggling financially, it’s put more pressure on existing papers and media to prove their existence,” he said. “When you feel like you’re under a threat, you never feel more alive.”
Casey Merkwan is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota and an intern at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.