In the nearly 7 years since MinnPost’s launch as an independent, nonprofit, member-supported news site in Minnesota, it has become known throughout the region and the nation for its high journalistic standards, its online innovations — from its news technology developments and offerings to its pioneering strategic model — and its successful growth.
MinnPost has won both regional and national awards, including two this year from the Education Writers Association and three SPJ Page One Awards this spring. It has become known in Minnesota as a site that covers public policy with particular depth and analysis, and complements traditional media’s approach with a distinctive digital personality.
Numerous digital innovations developed by the MinnPost Data Team have included the creation of a detailed interactive Minneapolis crime app that is updated regularly; a handy (and much-used) digital mayoral-race questionnaire that helped readers sort through the issues and come up with a candidate “match” in last fall’s election (staff noted huge spikes in traffic throughout Election Day, in fact); and a digital bill-tracker that followed developments in the 2014 session of the Minnesota Legislature. Many more can be found at www.minnpost.com/data. See also the live election results dashboard www.minnpost.com/results#dashboard.
Our news data team shares coding of its developments in an ongoing way with others. Note the MinnPost journalism open source code collection code.minnpost.com/car-code.
MinnPost has received strong support from its members and both regional and national foundations. It recently began work on a joint Knight Foundation grant (with the Voice of San Diego) to develop new tools to build membership and sustainability. MinnPost and VOSD will engage in a two-stage process over the next two-plus years: First, to develop systems and adopt best practices that manage member information and facilitate significant membership growth. And second, to test out and then adopt new products, services and experiences for members that will make thousands more readers want to be members rather than non-paying readers. Each organization will receive $600,000 over the next two years.
Regional funders for journalistic projects include the Bush Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Robina Foundation/Allina Health, the Blandin Foundation, the Northwest Area Foundation and others. Such foundations are supporting coverage of education, the environment, late-in-life health issues, Greater Minnesota and more.
MinnPost also receives strong support from the community. Our annual, very popular MinnRoast event, held each April, keeps growing and this year moved to the historic State Theatre, where the “roast” included skits and stand-up comedy by and about politicians and journalists. This year the audience, almost 1,400 strong, hooted at the jokes, and opened their wallets. $17,369 came in the night of the show, on top of $140,945 in sponsorship and ticket revenues. All three numbers were up significantly from last year. This success was mentioned in a PBS Idea Lab article: www.pbs.org/idealab/2014/06/17-lessons-for-local-news-events
MinnPost has also developed a model for generating smaller donations for specific beats. This was recently the subject of a Justin Ellis article (Nov. 12, 2013) on the Neiman Journalism Lab website, entitled “MinnPost funds reporting through new donor-backed beats.” It described what has become a very successful way for MinnPost to garner smaller donations from members of the community to support specific coverage areas. Those areas include the environmental blog Earth Journal, our mental-health and addiction beat and, with a new campaign, expanded arts coverage. The arts campaign garnered over $10,000 in personally solicited increments of $1,000 before the online portion, “$10,000 in 10 days,” began. It is currently in progress.
MinnPost has a robust presence on social media. It has 35,700+ Twitter followers, and our Facebook page has 13,000 “Likes”; both Twitter and Facebook drive significant traffic to the website and are constantly updated each day with news, photos and conversation. MinnPost engages readers and the public through departments’ and staffers’ social media accounts as well. MinnPost Arts, for example, has 3,000+ followers on Twitter, and Artscape has a strong, interactive presence on Facebook.
MinnPost’s Comments section is a vibrant – and famously civil – host for readers’ posts. It requires real names and is moderated for civility. The site also includes readers’ views in a very-well-read Community Voices op-ed section and in Letters to MinnPost.
MinnPost interacts with the public through local events as well; it recently participated in Minneapolis’ popular Northern Spark all-night arts fesitival with “Laku,” a digital tool developed by the Data Team that projected Minnesota lakes and their characteristics, plus featured related interactive games. MinnPost hosts Q&A panel events on newsworthy topics at a local eatery, and staff members frequently appear on public television and on panel discussion programs. An Inside MinnPost column highlights such events and shares the content with readers.
MinnPost was and is a pioneer that never rests on its laurels. It has engaging and authoritative writers, outstanding editors and a data team that continually invents new ways of presenting information and interacting with readers and the community.