Sign of the times at the Star Tribune?

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I have not written about the surprise December 26 sale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to Avista Capital Partners. Clearly it was another sign of tough economic times in the newspaper industry.

Today’s health section of the paper may be another sign of a paper limping through its routine. It’s a weekly health section and there isn’t one locally-produced piece in the section. Contributions come from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. I’m not tying this anecdote to the new ownership; in fact, I’ve observed such a trend in this section before. When the paper announced its new redesign more than a year ago, the window-dressing nature of this weekly health section was obvious. No new resources or staffing were devoted to the coverage of health, medicine, or science. Just a weekly section, often filled with contributions from other sources.

Oh, well, at least the Star Tribune’s editorial page today addressed local needs. The editorial states: “At a Capitol news conference last week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty had finished outlining his much-awaited plan to expand health insurance coverage when a reporter asked how many Minnesotans would gain coverage under its provisions. An aide consulted some notes and replied: 23,000 people, including 13,000 children.

That number is too low. It’s a small fraction of Minnesota’s 70,000 uninsured children, and less than one-tenth of its uninsured adults. In fact, it could be less than the number of people who lost coverage from state budget cuts in 2003. It shows a disappointing lack of leadership in a state that prides itself as a leader in health care — and that now measures itself against states where Republican governors have embraced universal coverage.”

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January 24, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for the follow up comment. I am a behavioral health clinician working in managed healthcare in the Twin Cities and I enjoy reading your blog. I feel fortunate to live in a community with a commitment to healthcare (by history anyway); to see the Strib drift away from covering impt state and local health topics is unfortunate. Plus, my husband’s brother is the pop music writer at the Strib, and my daughter is a junior at the Univ of IA in print journalism. I grew up with a strong tradition of reading the local paper (gosh, I remember feeling lost when the pm paper went away) and our household continues to read the paper daily (OK, my 17 y.o. focuses on the sports section). And, hey, I like getting my news online too. But I don’t like to see changes in what’s happening with print journalism…….