Who owns your newspaper?

April 9, 2018

By Kirsten Faurie
Editor | Kanabec County Times
“Who owns you?”
It’s a strange question, and the first time I was asked it, I was taken a little off guard.
Then I was asked again, and yet again. In a world of media consolidations, “fake news,” growing concerns about where our news comes from and who is controlling it, asking who is in charge of your news is an increasingly valid question.
News groups are constantly being bought and sold. As a recent example, our neighbor, the Mille Lacs Messenger, was just purchased by the Adams Publishing Group which owns 120 community newspapers in 11 different states.
It is important to know who controls the news you are consuming.
So, who owns the Kanabec County Times?
The answer to the burning question is: a guy named Gene.
Every so often, Gene Johnson drives from his home in White Bear Lake, pops his head into my office and asks me how it’s going. He compliments my successes and offers suggestions about what readers might feel is an interesting story. Sometimes he gives me a book to read to further my professional development. The last one was all about how having strength of character and morality is key to success as a leader.
Sometimes we talk business over a glass of beer (or wine if we are feeling fancy). Around Christmas, his wife, Kathy, visits to give me a hug and bring an assortment of bars and cookies into our office’s break room.
Gene and his son, Carter, own 16 newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over the years, Gene has served as a leader with a variety of news organizations, including the Minnesota Newspaper Association, the National Newspaper Association, Suburban Newspapers of America (now Local Media Association) and the American Newspaper Representatives.
Now that we know who Gene is, the real question is, how does he shift his weight to be a mastermind and conspirator in 100 percent control of the “liberal media?”
Well, he doesn’t, and I don’t know how anyone could. I’m not saying we are unorganized, but we can hardly plan an office potluck with enough forks, let alone coordinate a unified brainwashing of America in line with some ultimate agenda.
The most Gene has suggested to me was that we invite local pastors to contribute to our Focus on Faith section, and that we try to use more visual charts and graphs when we are reporting on trends.
It should be noted that Gene and myself have very different political views, which also differ from those of both publishers I have worked under while at the Times. © Kanabec County Times 2018

Kirsten Faurie is editor of the Kanabec County Times and managing editor of the Braham Journal. She can be reached at editor@moraminn.com. Reprinted with permission.

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