By Sean Stroh, Editor & Publisher
What if one day, all the news vanished from the front page?
That’s what happened in Minnesota when several hundred newspapers agreed to run blank front pages as part of a statewide “whiteout” campaign. The initiative took place during Minnesota Newspaper Week Aug. 13-19, coinciding with the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s yearlong celebration of its 150th anniversary. Several hundred newspapers in the state ended up participating in the campaign.
“Feedback from MNA newspaper members has been overwhelmingly positive. Publishers report receiving calls from readers thanking them for publishing the paper and some said it made readers appreciate the newspaper more,” said MNA executive director Lisa Hills.
Keith Anderson, director of news for ECM Publishers (which produces more than 45 papers throughout Minnesota), said the campaign served as an opportunity for both readers and journalists alike to reflect on the essential role of local journalism.
“It’s easy to assume the news that we all read each day will always be there. We just expect it, like the rising of the sun. But it takes serious effort, time and talent on the part of journalists to report news that matters to people,” he said. “We also know newspapers have endured some pretty tough times in the last decade and the volume of work that used to be handled by many has fallen on a reduced field of dedicated people. We believe that work is worth celebrating. And it’s also worth protecting for the benefit of everyone.”