Tag Archives: Northfield News

Who needs LoGro? See Northfield’s mainstream media for news about the upcoming high school mountain bike racing team meeting

I’m appreciative of Northfield’s media organizations who have been very helpful in drawing attention to Tuesday night’s (May 15) information meeting for the new Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team for area high school students.

Northfield News: Northfield high school mountain bike team forming Northfield News: Northfield high school mountain bike team forming Northfield Patch: Cannon Valley Biking Team Pedaling Toward Starting LinePeter Behm with KYMN News Morning Show host Jeff Johnson

Northfield News reporter Jordan Osterman: Northfield high school mountain bike team forming

KYMN News Morning Show host Jeff Johnson: Griff Wigley and Peter Behm on C.V. Mountain Bike Racing (blog post with streaming audio). Alternate: download/listen to MP3.  (Peter Behm is a student at ARTech.)

Northfield Patch reporter Michael Garlitz: Cannon Valley Biking Team Pedaling Toward Starting Line

One point Wigley stresses when talking about forming the team is that the activity is open to girls, as well as boys.

“The big push nationally is to get girls involved,” he said. “And, there is an incentive for having girls on your team. Points earned by girls are worth more, which helps in recruiting.

Can’t make the May 15 meeting? Area student-athletes who are interested can now fill out a form on the CVMTBT website to be kept informed on next steps on the team’s formation.

Northfield News revamps its website again; and again, bad things happen

SouthernMinn.comLast Monday, the Northfield News launched a new website using a new content management system for all its regional newspapers, putting all of them under the domain name southernminn.com. So the Northfield News site is now at southernminn.com/northfield_news (there’s an underscore between the ‘d’ and the ‘n’).

I have no problem with this change on the face of it.

Currently, none of the old articles are available. Presumably—hopefully–they will be restored in some type of online archive. But just like in Feb. 2011, the URL’s for those articles will change and the old ones will evidently not redirect.  Last year, I wrote to Publisher Sam Gett:

At Locally Grown, we have linked to hundreds of your articles over the years and now, none of the those links work any longer. As you know, we drive a lot of traffic to your site. (And likewise, our discussions benefit from your content.) So it seems like you’d want to continue to maintain the old URL’s, if for no other reason than to continue generating pageviews.

I never heard back.  So I again wrote to him early last week, resending that paragraph. He said he’d look into it, but I’ve not heard back.

And this morning, if you go to NorthfieldNews.com, you don’t even get redirected to the new site. Instead, you end up at a GoDaddy.com page that says:

Want to buy this domain? Our Domain Buy Service can help you get it. This page is parked free, courtesy of GoDaddy.com

NorthfieldNews.com
See the above screenshot. This may be a temporary situation, an oversight on someone’s part, but it’s certainly startling.

Lastly, the changeover also removed all previous usernames and comments. People are being asked to re-register.  I’ve never like the paper’s policy of allowing anonymous comments so I don’t consider this a great loss. But it’s indicative that they don’t value their readers’ comments either.

Two build-outs underway on downtown’s West side. Guess the businesses; guess the media coverage

300 Water St - exterior 300 Water St - interior
The space at 300 S. Water St., most recently a photography studio, is undergoing a build-out. Guess what current Northfield business is moving in there?

209 S. Water St - exterior 209 S. Water St - interior
Likewise, the space at 209 S. Water St., formerly Erbert & Gerberts, is undergoing a build-out. Guess what two businesses are moving in there? Hint: they are not retail and they are not currently Northfield businesses.

Bonus question: Will Northfield Patch or the Northfield News be the first to run stories on these developments?

Northfield News story on firefighters’ pension is misleading

Northfield Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson; Griff Wigley March 13 Nfld News:  Northfield’s firefighter wages, pensions among highest in state DSC08083 Northfield Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson; Griff Wigley
Northfield Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson stopped by my corner office at GBM yesterday. We mostly argued, hence the scowls in the left photo. (Feel free to sort through the 180+ comments to my blog post to find my criticisms of the Northfield Fire Department. More to come?)

But one thing we did agree on (hence the smiles in the right photo) was that the two versions of the Northfield News stories about the firefighters’ pension contained some misleading information. In the March 6 version, Northfield firefighters: paid or volunteers?, reporter Suzy Rook wrote:

According to a state auditor’s report for 2009, the city’s firefighters, who also serve the Northfield Rural Fire District, have $7,500 apiece placed in the fund annually;

In the sidebar:

$7,500 — Northfield’s annual pension contribution per firefighter

After the March 6 story appeared, Tom’s email to me and Suzy included this:

Northfield Fire Relief is presently at $7500/yr of service.  This is not to be confused with “The City pays each member $7500/year” as was stated in the Northfield News e-edition last week.  The impact on the annual budget is only the Municipal Contribution amount.  For this year, the impact is slightly more than $900/fire fighter.

Likewise, in the comment thread attached to the March 6 story, firefighter Aramis Wells argued with her about this issue.  But to no avail, as this week’s March 13 version, Northfield’s firefighter wages, pensions among highest in state, contained the same text and sidebar.

My take

Individual firefighter pension obligations DO NOT cost the City of Northfield/taxpayers $7,500/year, as the Northfield News’ stories indicate.

Rather, if they stay on the job for 20 years or more (and past the age of 50), the pension fund pays them $7,500 per year of service. Big difference.

The amount in the fund fluctuates with the stock market and so the City’s annual contribution to the fund fluctuates.  Back in 2008, the City contributed nearly $100,000 to the fund. In 2009 it was half that. This year, Tom says it’ll be about $29,000.

I think the City of Northfield and we citizens get a good deal with this arrangement because the pension encourages firefighters to stay on the job.  Lack of turnover is generally a good thing when it comes to firefighting and I think we’re better served by having so many firefighters with so many years of experience.

But we need not worry too much that the current turmoil with the City and the Northfield Fire Department will cause many firefighters to quit.  Fire Chief Gerry Franek’s attorney David Hvistendahl, Northfield Area Rural Fire District administrator Jerry Anderson and others are wrong to, um, fan these flames.

Why?

The firefighters get a good deal, too. If they stick with it for 20 years, they get a decent lump sum payout of $150,000. A few are going get twice that as they been on the job for nearly 40 years. Plus, they have an interesting and challenging part-time job in which they get to make a real difference in people’s lives, contribute measurably in the community’s quality of life, and earn our respect for doing so. Not many $21/hr part-time jobs offer all this.

I’m glad the Northfield News did the story because it has helped raise awareness of the issue.  But I think they owe it to the firefighters and to the citizens to run a correction.

Where might this Minnesota lake be?

Nfld News MN mountain lakeLike many newspapers around the state, the Northfield News regularly publishes articles via an arrangement with MPR News.

On Monday, the paper ran an MPR story titled More Minnesota lakes and rivers added to impaired list. The paper chose this photo (click to enlarge) to accompany the article.

I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and I’ll be damned if I can identify where this picturesque lake might be.

Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Northfield News’ use of Linden St photo for Plum St article implies that the trees have already been cut down. Not.

Print version of the story: Talk comes too late for trees Online version of the story: Talk comes too late for trees5-21-plum-street-trees

This weekend, the Northfield News used a photo of the trees cut down on N. Linden St. to illustrate its Talk comes too late for trees story about the N. Plum St. trees, despite the fact that the trees on N. Plum have not yet been cut down. The photo was used for both the print and online versions of the story.

It’s not an insignificant issue, as the residents of N. Plum St. are still pleading (at last Tuesday’s Council meeting and online, e.g. here and here) with city officials to halt plans to cut down the trees, evidently scheduled to begin on Monday.

Although the text of the article doesn’t mention whether or not the trees have already been cut down, the accompanying tag line of the photo in the print version reads:

The widening of Plum Street cost residents decades-old trees.

The past tense of the verb ‘cost’ indicates to the reader that the widening and the cutting have already been done.

The print version of the story has the photo byline "News photo by Suzanne Rook." The file name/URL of the photo is 5-21-plum-street-trees.jpg

The online version of the story indicates that it was submitted by Managing Editor Jerry Smith on Friday night at 10:30:

Submitted by Jerry Smith on Fri, 05/20/2011 – 22:30

Also, the information provided in this paragraph is puzzling:

City maps show 12 trees will be removed during construction. Two are ash trees, which are susceptible to emerald ash borer, an invasive species known to be in Ramsey County. Another 24 ash trees may also be removed, while the survival of 132 trees is construction dependent.

The Plum St. tree map on page 8 of the city’s slide presentation on the project shows at least 29 trees marked with an X which the legend says means ‘Remove.’ Page 9 says:

31 trees are currently noted for removal with 32’ street width;
6 Trees could potentially be left with 30’ street width

I’m not implying that the Northfield New has any hidden agenda on this issue. But it’s difficult to see how the use of the photo and the accompany tag line could be just a simple mistake or oversight.

Goliath vs. David: Northfield News bullies AOL’s Northfield Patch

David vs. GoliathI noticed last week that the Northfield News editorial, Your voice could help save the post office, didn’t mention the fact that Northfield Patch had launched an online petition a couple days earlier, Save the Northfield Post Office! Sign the Online Petition

No surprise there. The Northfield News won’t link to needy area non-profit organizations in their stories (see this week’s story on the Community Action Center’s Food Shelf as an example), let alone their media competitors or any area bloggers.

But yesterday the Northfield News behaved very badly by putting up their own Save the Northfield Post Office Online Petition, linking to it from their Facebook Wall, and using nearly the exact wording of Patch’s petition.  The minor wording changes:

Patch: We, as Northfield residents, stand strongly opposed to the consideration of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to close the downtown Northfield Post Office.

News: As Northfield residents, we stand strongly opposed to the consideration of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to close the downtown Northfield Post Office.

And:

Patch: The downtown post office has been at its current location since 1936 and has become as much a symbol of Northfield as anything else in our community. 

News: The downtown post office has sat majestically overlooking the Cannon River at its current location since 1936 and is considered a symbol of Northfield as much as anything else in our community.

Everything else is word-for-word the same.

Renee Huckle MittelstaedtI don’t know if this plagiarism but it’s a shitty thing for Northfield News Publisher/Editor Sam Gett, Managing Editor Jerry Smith, and Associate Editor Suzy (Suzanne) Rook to do.

It’s this type of bullying behavior that makes me root for Goliath (media giant AOL is the owner of Patch) against David (Michigan-based Huckle Media LLC is the owner of the Northfield News and 16 other hometown newspapers).

If you know know former Northfielder Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt, now president and co-owner of Huckle Media LLC, consider contacting her about this.  No, Huckle Media doesn’t have a website (aarrgghh!) but Renee can be reached via her LinkedIn account and her Facebook account.