RPD: A Relevance Lesson In Minnesota

97th in a 2022 Series*


Marshall Helmberger publishes the Timberjay with his wife, Jodi. Their success, they say, depends on Relevance. I’d add impressive dedication, devotion to their community, and a firm commitment to excellence. The spirited weekly covers 4,000 square miles in far northern Minnesota in what used to be a mining town that’s turned into a tourist destination because of its forest and lakes. Helmberger was a guest speaker at the recently concluded National Summit on Journalism in Rural America in Kentucky. He volunteered he was happy to hear about The Relevance Project, adding his wife often emphasizes being Relevant as a driving force to staying connected to their community. The reward: Engaged readers. He then offered how the Timberjay maintains its Relevance:
*Solid, fearless reporting on local and regional issues.
*Maintain independence.
*Show leadership in the community.
*Look for niches.
*Look for regional opportunity.
*Maintain an active and engaging website.

The next one wasn’t on his list, but it could have been as Helmberger said it was an important ingredient to successful local publishing:
Bring positive change to the community by informing them.
Helmberger’s definition will go into my collection of the many ways community news operations can be Relevant. In explaining how he became a publisher in Tower, MN, Helmberger said it bothered him that when another publication closed in the region, people in Warroad, MN, just “shrugged their shoulders.”
What happened?
The newspaper, he said, “lost its Relevance.”

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

CORRECTION: This Relevant Point has been updated to correct the location of the newspaper that shut down (Warroad, not Tower). Thanks to Al Cross of The Rural Blog for his reporting. Also, the headline has been changed to better reflect the Point.

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

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