How we got started

In the late 1960s the Minnesota Newspaper Association recognized that public trust in the news media was declining. The association, which represents the interests of about 385 papers across the state (25 or so of them dailies, most of the rest weeklies), dispatched a University of Minnesota journalism professor, Ed Gerald, to study the work of the British Press Council in London. He was impressed with its ability to resolve complaints and to restore public trust, and he came back urging the association to start a news council here.

It would have 24 voting members, half of them journalists and half laypersons, and a sitting justice of the state supreme court as chairperson at public hearings on unresolved complaints. The Minnesota News Council was incorporated in
December 1970 and heard its first case in January 1971. It upheld the complaint of a legislator who said the Union Advocate newspaper had unfairly described him as being on the take from the liquor lobby. At the hearing the editor admitted that he had not checked the veracity of the story because it was good a story to lose. Few of the cases since have proved so easy.