Photo by Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune
2019 Community Impact Report

Covering all walks in Minnesota

Dear Star Tribune readers,

Last year, as an experiment, we published our first Community Impact Report — an attempt, as our managing editor said, “to provide an accounting of the good that we did” in the previous year. It summarized not only the best of our public-service journalism but also the effects of that reporting at the State Capitol, in various social-service and law enforcement agencies, in our justice system, in local communities, and in the lives of Minnesotans from all walks. We are sharing our 2019 Community Impact Report with all our readers today, so you can judge for yourself whether we have added value to your life and to life in Minnesota.

It’s certainly no secret that news organizations are under greater pressure to demonstrate their value in the face of the innumerable (increasingly digital) information and entertainment options consumers enjoy today. However, we believe that our focus on the coverage of local politics, business, sports, entertainment and the environment that matters most to Minnesotans places us at the center of our civic conversation. We try to distinguish ourselves every day with that coverage, as the pages that follow show. We also strive to cultivate that discussion in our Opinion content, which is handled independently from the newsroom, with a broad range of perspectives and reader voices.

Unlike many of our peers around the country, the Star Tribune remains locally owned and is managed and staffed by people whose only obligation is to you, the people of Minnesota. Any profits are reinvested in sustaining our mission, improving our products and extending the reach of our newsroom.

In 2019, we hired 22 journalists to fill positions that opened over the course of the year. Some work behind the scenes developing and refining digital products or producing the daily newspaper. Others contribute coverage and stories alongside the veteran journalists whose bylines you know well (including Sid Hartman, who turns 100 this year and, incredibly, still files his weekly column). One new effort I’m particularly proud of: We greatly expanded our coverage of Duluth and the Arrowhead region last year, and our readership in northern Minnesota is growing.

If you’re reading this, it’s because, at some level, you support the Star Tribune. On behalf of all of us here, thank you for that support. Without it, the Star Tribune, and our region, would be diminished. We’re grateful for your continued trust.

Mike Klingensmith, publisher and CEO

2019 Highlights

Newsroom

From breaking-news coverage to investigative journalism, from the State Fair to the campaign trail, from an icy winter to the warmth of summer, Star Tribune journalists work to tell the stories of Minnesota. By identifying our challenges, elevating solutions and celebrating our successes, we aim to make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans.

Special report: Chaotic care

This series investigated the breakdowns in Minnesota’s Medicaid services for people with disabilities. Reporters Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt and photographer Richard Tsong-Taatarii documented the extreme gaps in service across the state, a costly system for disbursing billions of dollars, and the toll on families. Lawmakers have pledged reforms.

Duluth bureau & the North Report

We opened a four-person bureau in downtown Duluth focused on covering news and issues throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Their stories and photos, along with other articles of interest to readers in that region, are highlighted in the North Report newsletter, e-mailed each weekday morning.

Athletes who make a difference

Our sports department’s coverage of everything from the visiting Final Four to nail-biting sports seasons was enriched by powerful storytelling, including an in-depth profile of North High and Gophers athlete Tyler Johnson and the inspiring story of former high-school basketball star Jake Sullivan’s search for hope amid mental illness.

Outdoor adventure series

Over five weeks during the summer, in vivid photos and heartfelt storytelling, we shared the joys and challenges of a group’s canoe trip on a centuries-old water trail through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — an adventure that gave a father and son new appreciation for the area’s diverse beauty, and for each other.

The political pulse of the Midwest

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, political reporter Judy Keen and photographer Glen Stubbe traveled throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest to talk with a wide range of voters to explore how politics and attitudes are changing. The series, “Proving Ground,” continues this year.

The trial of Mohamed Noor

Veteran criminal justice reporters Chao Xiong and Libor Jany provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, convicted in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The Star Tribune helped fight for the media’s right to be in the courtroom and to view any exhibits shown to the jury.

Celebrating 50 years of Taste

Our food and dining section celebrated its 50th anniversary in style, showing how the evolution of the local food scene tells a larger story about the Twin Cities. We invited the community to a birthday party in our building lobby, a series of movies and to a chef’s dinner showcasing the state’s James Beard award winners.

Climate change in Minnesota

Warm Front,” a five-part series, showed Minnesota readers how climate change is already damaging a state they know and love. It focused on climate effects that are concrete and familiar — destructive neighborhood flooding, the risk to prized fishing lakes and fish species, and damage to the state’s major cash crops and beloved backyard gardens.

Can rural hospitals survive?

Health reporter Jeremy Olson chronicled the threats to Minnesota’s rural hospitals as they face fierce economic pressures. Despite consolidations, mergers and other efforts, dozens of hospitals throughout Minnesota remain in financial distress, putting small-town medicine and patients at risk. Still others are finding ways to survive.

Deadly fire in public housing

When a fire killed five people at the Cedar Riverside high rise, we were first on the scene, capturing the devastation as well as intimate portraits of victims. We also explored the lack of sprinklers in the public housing complex and translated key coverage into Somali. Now legislators are looking to fund upgrades to older public housing complexes statewide.

Curious Minnesota

Why can’t Minnesotans zipper-merge? How did the Twin Cities become a hub for Somali-Americans? These and other questions from the community are the focus of a new weekly feature, Curious Minnesota. It’s fast becoming one of the most-loved features we publish. Its success has prompted us to launch a “Curious Minnesota” podcast.

National honors for our work

We saw many accolades for our news, business, features, sports and visual journalism. The highest honors went to “Denied Justice,” which revealed widespread failings in investigating and prosecuting rape reports. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting and won the public service award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

2019 Highlights

Opinion

The Opinion team, which operates separately from the newsroom, is dedicated to hosting a thoughtful daily discussion on issues in the news. The goal is to reflect a diversity of viewpoints in editorials, commentary, letters to the editor and cartoons.

Editorials

Editorial Board members offer opinions on local, national and international topics, most often based on original reporting. From the state budget to safety netting at Target Field, the board published more than 400 editorials in 2019, including a special report, “Not this mine. Not this location,” on mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Commentary

Our contributors include local and national writers, along with staff members John Rash and D.J. Tice. Among the most-read in 2019: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Republican National Committee co-chair Tommy Hicks on a Trump rally, and St. Cloud writer Ari Kaufman and University of Minnesota Prof. Larry Jacobs on the urban-rural divide.

Readers Write

Star Tribune readers are knowledgeable, engaged and opinionated. In 2019, we published letters from readers across Minnesota and beyond as they discussed issues ranging from the purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance at St. Louis Park City Council meetings to the impeachment of the president.

Editorial cartoonist Steve Sack

Our cartoonist continues to entertain and provoke readers with his distinctive takes on the news. “I read the paper, I crack a joke and I draw a picture,” Sack said after winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons. Sack’s 2019 subjects included a snowy winter, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s poll numbers and, more than once, President Donald Trump.

Business and event partners

Community

In addition to our coverage, we’re proud to enrich and enhance the lives of Minnesotans by providing a wide variety of events and partnering with organizations that reflect the vibrancy of our community and the interests of our readers. We also help thousands of local and regional businesses connect with their audiences all day, every day through a powerful mix of print and digital marketing solutions.

Arts and Cultural Partners

American Swedish Institute, Basilica Block Party, Circus Juventas, Edina Art Fair, Graywolf Press, Guthrie Theater, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Minnesota Book Awards (Friends of the St. Paul Public Library), Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minnesota Children’s Museum, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota Zoo Foundation, Science Museum of Minnesota, Stone Arch Bridge Festival, Talk of the Stacks (Friends of the Hennepin County Library), The Loft Literary Center (Wordplay), University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Uptown Art Fair

Civic and Business Partners

AIM: Women’s Leadership Conference, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, Better Business Bureau, Doors Open Minneapolis, Greater MSP, Minneapolis Downtown Council, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Itasca Project, The Minnesota Business Partnership, The Print Event, Youth Frontiers

Educational Partners

BrandLab, Eastview Speech Tournament, Metropolitan Library Service Agency (smARTpass Programs), News in Education Program (NIE), ThreeSixty Journalism

Sports Partners

3M Open, Canterbury Park, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (Twin Cities in Motion), Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Sports Awards (Sports Minneapolis), Minnesota Twins, Minnesota United FC, Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Wild, National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), St. Paul Saints, Minnesota Timberwolves, The Loppet Foundation, University of Minnesota Athletics, X Games

Star Tribune annual events

All-Metro Sports Awards, Behind the Lens: Photos of the Year, Father’s Day Ugly Tie 5K, Holiday Cookie Contest Tasting, Inspired Conversations Speaker Series, Music & Movies, a summer celebration at Lake Harriet, One Day University, Star Tribune Vacation & Travel Experience, State Fair Preview Party, Talking Volumes (with Minnesota Public Radio), Top Workplaces