Dear Supporter of the Minnesota News Council,
As you may have read in the media, the Board of Directors of the Minnesota News Council has made the painful and difficult decision to close our doors.
After 41 years of existence and more than 155 hearings involving consumers of the media and its outlets, in the past couple years MNC has been overtaken by a combination of forces, many of them common to other charitable organizations. The recession of 2008 and 2009 had a terrible impact on our funding. Many of the corporations that had contributed to our efforts over the years for their own budgetary reasons cut back on their charitable giving, often refocusing their efforts to a narrow list of vital functions, such as children’s issues, healthcare and education. Minnesota’s two major daily newspapers, facing bankruptcy, ownership changes and other issues, also either trimmed their contribution or eliminated it altogether.
Finally – times change. The growth and expansion of the Internet had a profound impact on our efforts. The proliferation of blogs, which allowed news consumers their own distinct voices, email and comment sections to online news stories, provided an instantaneous outlet for complaints, concerns and commentary on the news. Our hearing process, which was both thorough and, as a result, time-consuming, couldn’t measure up to the instant access allowed by electronic media.
You should be aware that the Board of the News Council explored every possible avenue to keep the organization alive: We asked both the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and the University of St. Thomas’ School of Journalism if either institution would like to take over the organization; we also asked both our board members and hearing panel members if anyone would like to continue the organization’s work on a purely volunteer basis. None of these avenues bore fruit.
We are now in the process of filing the necessary legal documents to formally close down the organization and will be posting this on our website as further notification. Eventually, we will be working to transfer the approximately $270,000 in our endowment – upon which we had been drawing heavily for operating money before we eliminated our paid staff and moved out of our offices – to the Minnesota News Media Institute, the 501(c)(3) arm of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. The funds will be used for the continuing education of working journalists, to continue the Minnesota News Council’s public forum program, and for research projects at the graduate and undergraduate level.
To all those who have supported our efforts, participated in our hearings and donated to our operations, thank you. Without you all, we wouldn’t have succeeded as long as we did; becoming the longest-living organization dedicated to fair and trusted journalism in America. That’s something to be proud of.
Chairman of the Board
Minnesota News Council