As 2023 has come to a close, I would like to personally thank you for your continued support of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Without the loyalty and commitment of members, MNA would not be able to do its work to protect public and press freedoms and advance professional standards of newspapers in Minnesota. You, MNA’s members, make that work possible.
As we continue to make our way around Minnesota mee ting with members, it’s clear that we are on the same page: Minnesota newspapers are vital to their communities, MNA’s efforts are valuable in supporting your work, and we continue to be stronger together.
I would like to share the many important initiatives your investment in MNA membership has enabled us to accomplish this year and beyond:
• Legal challenges to public notice thwarted: MNA and its lobbying firm continue to fight for members and the public at the Minnesota Legislature and in Washington. The strongest evidence of MNA’s success is that public notice remains intact in Minnesota, despite annual attempts to erode this vital pillar of government transparency. In the 2023 legislative session, MNA was able to preserve sample ballot publication requirements and codified a seat at the table for Minnesota newspapers when future changes are proposed.
• Press freedom victories: In 2023, MNA finally saw success in the decades-long battle to modernize camera access to Minnesota courtrooms. The landmark Supreme Court decision handed down in March revolutionized Minnesota’s antiquated laws prohibiting camera coverage of most court proceedings. The decision came after dozens of years of MNA legal work, as well as oral testimony from MNA Attorney Mark Anfinson and MNA members before the Minnesota Supreme Court.
• Legislative and legal work: MNA also fought hard in 2023 on digital data privacy issues at the Legislature and monitored and lobbied on hundreds of other bills that could affect newspapers’ operations, including initial rules surrounding advertising in the new world of legal cannabis. Nationally, MNA provided active, in-person support in Washington for proposed federal laws supporting newspapers, including the JCPA and the Community News and Small Business Support Act. We also continue to offset legal costs for MNA members by providing expert legal updates at each MNA convention and a member-only legal hotline that fields hundreds of inquiries each year from MNA members of allsizes.
• 2023 MNA Convention & Trade Show: Rebuilding after the challenges of two pandemic years, MNA hosted more than 500 attendees at the 2023 MNA convention, providing valuable training for salespeople, publishers and administrators, designers, journalists and circulation professionals. We limited member costs by landing the highest level of convention sponsorship support in years, then celebrated your team’s accomplishments and those of college journalists at an awards banquet attended by more than 350 people. We kept the celebration going with a popular new BNC Afterparty. And convention-goers raised more than $8,700 for the Minnesota News Media Institute to support MNA training and internship programs! We are looking forward to another incredible event in 2024, so be sure to get registered and head back to the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park on Jan. 31-Feb. 2.
• Growing revenue: MNA continues to protect and grow newspaper revenue for members with direct ad placements and by providing readership research, sales collateral and legislative advocacy on advertising and legal issues. In 2023, revenues to newspapers generated by MNA’s ad placement service offset or, in many cases, entirely covered the cost of MNA membership.
• Supporting local journalism: The Minnesota News Media Institute subsidized 12 MNA internships in 2023, the limit of our funding capacity. More than 30 newspapers sought to be part of the program that provides a direct wage subsidy to member newspapers for news, sales or design students – it’s your call. MNI also develops and provides innovative new solutions for MNA members like Citizen Journalism University, which graduated 21 students in its second year, and new-in-2023 Share & Learn programs, which create a space for fast and free monthly online training that leverages the expertise of the MNA network. The Institute also pays for on-demand learning through Online Media Campus and Digiversity, accessed for free by dozens of MNA member newspapers.
As 2024 opens, MNA is building on its strong momentum. The Better Newspaper Contest Awards Banquet at this year’s MNA Convention promises to be the biggest in years, with the most entries in at least a decade – more than 4,000. We’ve added a Wednesday evening opening reception to the convention – our 157th – and a full slate of training sessions led by nationally known advertising and news trainers, as well as peer-to-peer learning.
MNA sales staff is working with existing and potential new advertising clients to ensure they have the MNA readership data, rates and testimonials they need to put newspapers to work for them in 2024. We know newspapers work, and we’re here to ensure national and regional advertisers can efficiently get their message out via MNA member newspapers. Meanwhile, member ad sales networks including MCAN, MDAN and MINN offer newspapers and local sales staffs the chance to earn more money and bonuses while expanding reach for their clients.
The Minnesota News Media Institute, MNA’s nonprofit, has set aggressive 2024 fundraising and grant goals to ensure our ability to continue and improve programs including internships and training for MNA members, students and the public for years to come. We’ll need the help of every member in that effort.
We have a lot to be proud of this past year and a great story to tell. Minnesota newspapers are evolving, serving and we are not going anywhere!
On behalf of the Minnesota Newspaper Association and Minnesota News Media Institute, I wish each of our MNA members and their families – you – a wonderful, prosperous and rewarding 2024!