Welcome, readers of the new Southwest Connector. We’re glad you’ve picked up a copy of our inaugural edition. It’s an exciting time for neighborhood journalism. Thanks for coming along this journey with us.
You’re probably wondering: Who are we?
The Southwest Connector is for profit and for a purpose – and we don’t sacrifice one for the other. We consider ourselves a zebra company, one that is both black and white. As a media company, we work to highlight issues, solve real, meaningful problems, and repair existing social systems. We are working with our readers and advertisers to create a more just and responsible society that hears, helps and heals the customers and communities we serve.
That’s the short of it, the mission that we will print each month on page four as a reminder to ourselves and a promise to our readers.
Like other “zebra” companies, we believe in cooperation versus competition, sharing versus hoarding, mutualism versus parasitism. We are striving to be sustainable businesses. Journalism is one of the valuable institutions, along with education, healthcare, government – or the ‘third sector’ of nonprofits and social enterprises – that our democracy rests upon. Zebra companies are often started by women and other underrepresented founders, and many are small, family-run businesses like TMC Publications CO, the parent company of the Southwest Connector.
Another hint about who we are is in our name.
We’re here to be a connector. We will be striving to connect neighbors with each other, business owners with customers, and leaders with the people they’re serving.
That is, after all, what it means to be a community newspaper.
It’s what I love most about this work.
I appreciate how a neighborhood newspaper brings people together. Wondering what’s going up at the corner? Looking for a way to get plugged into a great non-profit and make some new friends while giving back? Curious about how your neighborhood organization is striving for equality, diversity and inclusion? Questioning the best way forward for Minneapolis?
Most news stories start with a question. We follow that up by asking the deeper “why.” And so, a conversation begins.
We hope you are part of that conversation. Send in letters and commentaries, give us story tips, and pass a copy of the paper along to a friend.
A BREAK FROM DIGITAL
We’re starting with a once-a-month newspaper and will grow to a twice-a-month publication. We’re working on pulling together all the pieces to make that happen.
The past few months have been full of projections, visioning, and conversations with community members, like students at Blake Upper School. I chatted with the school newspaper staff earlier this fall, and heard about the challenges and joys of putting out The Spectrum newspaper. We learned that we face a lot of the same issues. We’re all covering a specific audience, and striving to make our coverage be as useful and pertinent as possible. We’re working to address issues and highlight solutions, while balancing varying opinions and perspectives. We have differing opinions within the newsroom on how to cover things, and engage in thoughtful conversations about how to serve our readers the best.
Mostly, we believe in the future of print journalism, and we love the feel of a paper newspaper in our hands.
As publisher of two longtime newspapers, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and the Midway Como Frogtown Monitor, I love hearing from teenagers about how much they value the newspaper. And it tracks with national trends, too. A Vividata survey in the spring of 2020 found that Gen Z is more likely to read print only than digital only. I am hearing from more and more people of all ages that they need a break from devices and social media, and want to have a paper product to page through. They are tired of the echo chamber on Facebook. Plus, they’re seeking out news about their neighborhood, and the only place to get that is via their community newspaper.
We did our first ever circulation audit through the nationally known Circulation Verification Council (CVC) this year, and learned a little bit more about the folks reading the Messenger and Monitor. A whopping 7 of 10 people who get the paper delivered to their front doors look at it each month. And 2.1 people touch each copy that we print. That means our readers are passing the paper along to others, and those two papers are reaching 92,000 people in South Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Six of 10 say they regularly purchase products or services they see from the ads.
We see folks from all ages and demographics reading our publications –and that’s exactly how we want it to be. We want to see everyone being informed and educated, and a part of this lovely and complicated place we call home.
Back to the specifics of this new newspaper, the Southwest Connector. We will be covering 27,000 households in the Southwest area, delivering to the front doors of people between France Ave. and 35W, 394 and Highway 62, plus Bryn Mawr. We will also have 5,000 papers available to pick up at local businesses. See the list of bulk drop locations here. That means our readership will be 64,000 folks.
Right now we’re in our ramping up phase. Our first publication won’t be delivered to every home just yet. We’re working to build our list of part-time carriers who value flexible hours and will make between $11-15 an hour. Contact Bjorn if you’re interested in this role (firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-235-7197). Tammara Melloy is so excited to have a print newspaper in Southwest Minneapolis again that she offered to do additional delivery routes for these first few publications to get it out to folks. “I’m so glad you are taking up the gap left after the Southwest Journal,” said Melloy. “We need connection in the neighborhoods now more than ever, so love the name, too.” If you see Melloy dropping papers in Kingfield, be sure to say, “hi” and “thanks.” Our carriers are an important part of this community publication.
Our sales staff (get to know them by flipping through the photos above) are talking to local businesses and organizations about how they can invest and market with us to grow and stay strong – something we know is vital after experiencing the stress of COVID-19. We’re offering some pretty great discounts the first four months for those that sign one-year contracts.
We are building partnerships with neighborhood groups and local business associations. If you’re part of a group we should talk to, reach out and let me know.
We want to hear from you.
As Mike Blinder from Editor & Publisher says: change accelerates growth. We’re in a time of zig-zagging to better pinpoint what people want from their community newspaper and how to provide that. Some papers have shut down, some have consolidated, and others are starting fresh.
We have a rich and vibrant mosaic of news options in the Twin Cities, one that includes print, hybrid and online-only options, as well as radio and television. Those who shifted to online-only models include Southwest Voices, Sahan Journal, Minnesota Reformer, MinnPost and Mshale. The Southwest Connector falls in with those who are doubling down on print media – a trend we can see across the country as one generation passes the baton to another. We are eager to redefine what it means to be a community news source, and seeking to ensure our coverage is diverse and representative of those who live and work here.
We know that an online presence is part of that important recipe for success – and we offer that to advertisers and readers. You can read our newspaper at swconnector.com. Find tidbits and items of interest between our issues on Instagram (southwest_connector) and Facebook (swconnector).
As Eric Ortiz points out on the opinion page, Minneapolis needs connectors for our communities. We are all interconnected.
We are in this together.
You can reach me by emailing email@example.com or call 612-345-9998.
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