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Reed Anfinson, a past president of the Minnesota and National Newspaper Associations and owner of three county-seat newspapers in western Minnesota, sounds the alarm about the withering of community journalism, marking the demise of eight community newspapers in Minnesota (Opinion Exchange, April 10). He lays the blame on the profit motive, explaining that newspapers that can't generate sufficient ad revenue are axed by their owners without regard for the civic good these newspapers do for their communities. "Corporate greed" is the culprit, he says.

Anfinson also lays the blame on the internet, which for some reason can't serve communities like print newspapers do. Anfinson doesn't describe why this is. He recalls the lofty promises made about digital at its inception. Advocates exclaimed about the opening of the commons, allowing readers greater access to the chambers where public business gets done, guiding their civic participation and informing their choices. Instead, Anfinson says the digital commons has become a toxic stew of diatribe and lies, fueling division and demagoguery. Apparently, these are more profitable than the civic participation newspapers intend to enable.

Perhaps the profit motive is the problem. That would explain the emergence of nonprofit news organizations like MinnPost, the Minnesota Reformer and Sahan Journal. I know about nonprofit news because I read and support the Park Bugle, the monthly nonprofit newspaper and digital news source that serves the Como Park and St. Anthony Park neighborhoods in St. Paul and residents of Falcon Heights and Lauderdale. I joined its board because I wanted to see it thrive and because my father was a newspaper man. It's like joining the family business, investing time and effort instead of capital.

Many Bugle readers hold its pages in their hands to read about neighbors, school activities, library presentations, community council business and neighborhood gatherings. It comes free to their mailboxes, delivered by Doug the postman. But a growing number of readers get their Bugle online or through its social media channels. The online version mirrors the print edition; there's no pivot to a different audience. You can also pick up a copy of the Bugle at more than 60 businesses, restaurants and gathering places in the neighborhoods. I like to think about a newcomer, a student at the University of Minnesota, a dishwasher on break, picking it up to learn what those around them are like.

But let's face it; this is a fantasy. Most of us don't notice racks of publications at a threshold. If we're curious, we pull out our phone. That's why the pivot to digital forms is crucial for community journalism. And that's why the judgment that the internet and the profit motive have doomed community journalism is unsatisfying. This verdict leaves us sad, angry and outraged, which is exactly what Anfinson faults the digital commons for doing.

Advocates of community journalism can do better than portray it as a victim of the profit motive and the internet. Let's rely on fundamentals of journalism to navigate past current turbulence. Curiosity, mutual interest and empathy compel readers, whether they are turning the page or swiping up with their finger. Reporting and advertising that touches readers, tells them what they want to know and gives them something to talk about with their neighbors is what community journalism is all about. That's true across all demographics and modes of transmission. Let's alter the business model to serve these fundamentals.

Helen B. Warren lives in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul and serves on the board of the Park Bugle.