(KTTC)Two Minnesota newspapers on the brink of extinction are trying everything they can to keep publishing at a time when newspapers across the country are closing.
The Dodge County Independent and its sister publication the Steele County Times have been covering the local community for more than a century… and if they don’t get help they won’t be open for much longer.
“In Minnesota I think there’s been 20 that have closed down in the last five years and we’ve had two in this area,” said Dodge County Independent publisher Rick Bussler.
The Byron Review and the Dodge Center Star Herald both shut down in December.
Now the Dodge County Independent is in danger of its own demise hoping to avoid the same fate.
“I’d be lying if wouldn’t say we’re not struggling because we are struggling. We are on life support,” Bussler said.
Several factors are at play. One, the rising cost of news print.
“They’ve skyrocketed I think 30 percent now in the last year,” said Bussler.
On top of that the internet is partly to blame for plummeting ad sales and smaller subscription bases.
Recently, DCI and its sister publication the Steele County Times had to say goodbye to eight staff members.
“We’re down to a skeleton crew already. And it’s tough to keep going when you’re losing all that advertising and the decline of people putting stuff in the paper,” Bussler said.
And that loss of staff has a ripple effect in the community.
“People vote less when they don’t have a community newspaper. People become less engaged. There are a lot of detrimental effects as a whole,” said Bussler.
“Whether it’s their taxes going up or their favorite child’s teacher getting terminated. Whatever it is, we’re out there explaining to people what’s happening. You can’t get that from a tweet,” said Dodge County Independent editor Alex Malm.
At the County Seat Coffee Shop, Kristin Alexander, says she appreciates the local coverage.
“They do a really good job of covering school events, sports, featuring that and I appreciate that when my kids are going to school,” said Alexander.
“To have the one source that you kind of rely on to be gone, that’s going to be a loss.”
That’s why the news outlet is reaching out to the community it serves creating a GoFundMe to keep the lights on.
“This newspaper means a lot to me and the community means a lot to me too you know,” said Malm