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Minnesota Journalism Center Update

By Rachel Johnson

The MJC's annual Premack Awards and Lecture celebrated Minnesota public affairs journalism and launched a new program format focusing on current issues in public affairs reporting.

30th Annual Premack Awards and Lecture

2006 Premack Award recipients (L-R): MaryJo Sylwester, Meggen Lindsay, Megan Boldt, Steve Butcher, Lydia Howell, Phil Willkie, Jeff Hansel, Dave Hage, Jerry Olson and Denise Johnson.The importance of public affairs journalism and current issues in public affairs reporting took center stage at the 30th Annual Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Awards, held on April 23, 2007, at Coffman Memorial Union. The awards celebrate the best public affairs reporting of the year in Minnesota newspapers. Named for Frank Premack, a reporter and editor at the Minneapolis Tribune who died in 1975, the award is one of Minnesota's highest journalism honors. The entries are judged by a panel of citizens representing the Minnesota community and public life in the arts, education, journalism, law and politics.

Marlene Connor LynchThe Pioneer Press and reporters Megan Boldt, MaryJo Sylwester, Meggen Lindsay and Doug Belden were the winners in the Metro-Daily Newspaper category for "Schools That Work," an article that highlighted what schools in low-income areas are doing with their students to produce high test scores, defying expectations. The Rochester Post-Bulletin and reporter Jeff Hansel and photographer Jerry Olson won in the Greater Minnesota Dailies Category for "Living on the Edge," a series that focused on bringing homelessness to light in a community where most citizens thought it didn't exist. Pulse of the Twin Cities and reporters Max Sparber, Steve Butcher, Lydia Howell and Phil Willkie won the Weekly Newspaper award (prior to the publication closing up shop in June) for a cover series on homelessness that provided in-depth information on the general homeless population and insight into everyday realities faced by homeless people. The Star Tribune and Dave Hage won the Opinion Writing award for "Time for Calm Talk About Immigration," in which Hage points out the importance of conducting a complete conversation about immigration with Minnesota officials. The Star Tribune's Denise Johnson won the Graven Award, given each year to a member of the journalistic community whose contribution to excellence in the profession has deserved special recognition. It is named after David L. Graven, a close friend of Frank Premack, who served on the Premack board until his death in 1991.

Star Tribune reporter Dave HageAfter the awards ceremony, a new format for the Premack Lecture was introduced as award winners joined a distinguished panel of experts to discuss the importance of public affairs journalism in Minnesota. The panel was moderated by Premack board president and Star Tribune editorial writer Lori Sturdevant. Panelists included R. T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis; Karen Boros, professor of journalism and mass communication, University of St. Thomas; Bill Hanna, editor, Mesabi Daily News; and Thomas Horner, principal, Himle Horner. This year's Frank Premack Awards program was dedicated to all of the fine public affairs journalists who have left the profession in the last year.

To read the winning articles, visit http://www.mjc.umn.edu.

Ecosystem Science and Sustaianability Workshop

Liberty Land and Livestock owners Connie Karstens and Doug RathkeThe Minnesota Journalism Center hosted the second annual Sustainability Workshop May 20-22, 2007, on the University of Minnesota campus. The workshop, titled "Water in the 21st Century: A Journalist's Workshop on the Future of Our Most Precious Resource," explored issues surrounding the availability of water close to home and around the world. This workshop once again was coordinated with the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Initiative based on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. The 17 attendees included environmental journalists, food journalists, freelance journalists and journalism educators from Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York and Wisconsin.

Participants attended sessions focusing on topics such as climate change and how it affects water, global and regional water availability, water quality, the economics of water problems, and water regulations and policies. Participants were treated to a tour of the Mississippi River on a paddleboat, where they learned about the history of the river in a presentation by John O. Anfinson, historian and cultural resources specialist of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The group also got to see firsthand the sediment problems of the Minnesota River when the boat veered onto that river for a short period for an impromptu presentation by David Mulla, a University of Minnesota professor and expert on the Minnesota River.

Later in the evening, participants gathered at Café Brenda in downtown Minneapolis, where proprietor Brenda Langton prepared a wonderful meal emphasizing local foods. During the meal, local farmers Connie Karstens and Doug Rathke, owners of Liberty Land and Livestock, talked about how they have raised sheep on their farm chemical-free since 1990. In addition, Tim Lauer, author of "The Saltwater Cookbook" and general manager of Coastal Seafoods, discussed aquaculture and issues facing the seafood industries.

This workshop was made possible through a grant from the Bush Foundation. The next workshop will be held in the spring of 2008. For more information on the workshops, visit http://www.mjc.umn.edu or http://www.sustainability.umn.edu.

N2 News Paper Next: The Transformation Project

API's Newspaper Next shows newspapers how to thrive in changing times

The Minnesota Journalism Center was pleased to co-host the American Press Institute's Newspaper Next (N2) Workshop with the Minnesota Newspaper Association at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center on March 23, 2007.

This one-day regional workshop, aimed at publishers, top executives, and editors, set out to teach newspaper companies how to build a growing portfolio of business models, products and services to keep newspapers surviving and thriving in today's market.

The N2 approach, developed by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, gave workshop attendees a better understanding of the rapidly changing and eroding newspaper business, a new way to see and plug in to the opportunities around us, a clear process to unlock the opportunities, and a strategic framework for companies that outlines the areas of opportunity companies should pursue. The workshop boasted more than 100 attendees.

API will return to Minneapolis when it co-hosts a workshop with the MJC October 2-5, 2007. The topic will be "Storytelling Innovations," and registration information is available at http://www.americanpressinstitute.org/07/StorytellingOct/