StarTribune reporter seeks input on Northfield’s state of affairs

Tracy Davis, Ross Currier, Jon Tevlin Ross, Tracy and I met Friday morning with Jon Tevlin, a reporter for the StarTribune. He contacted us last week, as the paper’s considering publishing a story on all the um, interesting things that have been happening at Northfield City Hall lately.

Since he’s been following the discussions here on Locally Grown, I suggested to him that we set up a private blog post/discussion thread where he could interact with interested citizens and community leaders as he works on the story. I suggested that it be private since most reporters don’t want to be scooped by the competition. He agreed, as did his Strib colleagues.

Here’s our current plan on how it’s going to work (we could change our minds):

I’ll start a new blog post, make it private, and hand out usernames and passwords to anyone who’s interested, with these qualifiers:

  • you’re a local, have met me, Ross or Tracy face-to-face at least once, and we think you’d be a good addition to the conversation
  • you’re not a member of a media organization that competes with the Strib
  • if you’re not local, Jon knows you and approves of your participation
  • you agree to not communicate (blogging, email, etc) with others about what’s being discussed
  • you agree to our usual Guidelines for participation, with the understanding that the purpose of doing this is to help Jon write his article.

If and when the story gets published, we’ll make the blog discussion thread public with Jon’s and the Strib’s permission.

So if you’re interested, attach a comment here. Don’t email me asking to be included. If you’re not willing to go public with your wanting to be included, you’re probably not a candidate for participation.

And if you have suggestions on how we might better run this, please speak up!


  1. Kiffi summa said:

    Griff: I am very interested in this, but how, considering how much some of us have discussed what i presume will be related/same issues here, on LG, already, could we not have blogged about it…or given active role in community, not discuss it with others? see your bullet#4.
    Do you mean we can still discuss subject with others(seeing as how the dysfunctionality is just about all that’s being discussed in town) BUT just not refer to it a discussion on this specific site?
    I’m not sure how that separates out; please try to be a bit more specific.

    October 1, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Sorry, Kiffi, you’re right, that is confusing.

    I just meant that whatever drafts that Jon Tevlin might post of his story should not be spread about.

    October 1, 2007
  3. John George said:

    Griff- I would like an opportunity to participate in this discussion. When can I meet you? I’m usually around on Mondays & Tuesdays.
    Thanks, John G.

    October 1, 2007
  4. I would like to be included in this discussion. I trust Jon Tevlin will soon see beyond the smoke and mirrors of so-called ‘community issues’ and quickly begin to identify and define the core problem which lies, most emphatically, in City Hall.

    October 2, 2007
  5. David Ludescher said:

    I think this is a terribly bad idea. Just think back to all of the stories already done by the Twin City media. Did all of that media hype accomplish anything positive for the town? Is this story being done for the town’s benefit, Locally Grown’s benefit or the StarTribune’s?

    Count me out.

    October 2, 2007
  6. Bob Ewing said:

    I have to agree with Mr. Ludesher: “I think this is a terribly bad idea.”

    Aside from the fact that it comes across that a Ministry of Information is being established, complete with its own, seemingly arbitrary credentials process . . .

    I’m surprised that the Stib would agree to participate in CREATING a news source on which it can report and cite. WOW!!

    October 2, 2007
  7. victor summa said:

    David Ludesher’s response is interesting … in that Griff’s process (set up rules for the “feed tube” to Tevlin) only requires you to sign on — not sign off!

    I guess we can expect that Tevlin will do his journalistic responsible FACT CHECKING.

    Silence – a tool used by many in the public policy arena is easier… safer and often as strong as a voice of reason. Especially considering the public split in values.

    Had DL not expressed his position to NOT participate – his de facto position would then be that of a nonparticipant. We don’t need a list of lurkers know. i.e. RSVP only if you are attending.

    DL asked: Has the Twin Cities media focus on Northfield helped or hindered?

    Maybe it serves the same purpose as a dentist’s pulling a tooth. Very unpleasant – but it helps get rid of the problem.

    Of course I want in — until my dying breath!


    October 2, 2007
  8. victor summa said:

    Bob Ewing’s comment expressing “dismay” re: the Stribe’s complicity in this plan, aside, I don’t see it as dramatically different from an old fashioned interview… just a modern method.

    He called it an : “arbitrary credentials process . . .”

    From a “Citizen’s-voice” POV this seems to be a new and more accurate method to express your views, or give up information, and insure accuracy. Or, we could all become Deep Throats –meet in th’ dark in the park, etc.

    So, with the advantage of high speed internet technology, we can contribute to the reporter’s task by submitting information, views, quotable quotes, etc… with a “context” guarantee… the E record. Click on save!

    How is it different from scanning any blog, quoting from that… excepting Griff’s rules?

    October 2, 2007
  9. Lisa Guidry said:

    I want to be part of this discussion. I continue to research for more facts, and I have people willing to share details.

    October 2, 2007
  10. Rob Hardy said:

    Creating a private blog post for LG-approved participants does seem a bit like a group of Deep Throats meeting in a virtual parking garage. I think it’s better for this discussion to take place out in the open. If Tevlin wants to write about what’s going on in City Hall, he should talk to Roder, Smith, Denison, Lansing, et al. What is he going to get from setting up a private cyber-complainers club? He can get facts by going to talk to people who have facts, he can get opinions from anyone he pulls off the street.

    October 2, 2007
  11. Barbara Gentling said:

    I would like to participate. I’d also suggest a great book
    that is very pertinent to Northfield: “A Nation of Secrets”
    by Ted Gup. It’s new and in the Nfld. library. I hope so
    many people want to participate that Mr. Tevlin writes
    numerous articles about “our special place” …this community needs sunlight, fresh air, and openess.

    October 2, 2007
  12. John George said:

    Rob- Since when is news about facts? I thought it was about speculation about facts. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I think Victor’s perspective of an “old fashioned interview…just a modern method,” has credence. In fact, there is more openess in expressing an opinion or observation when there are a number of participants who will be reading opinions and observations than the “old fashioned” way- just the interviewer and interviewee (is that a word?).

    October 2, 2007
  13. victor summa said:

    Rob’s remarks hold a lot of water. Still there’s value in public opinion and there’s more value in INFORMED public opinion.

    Those who are officially involved, i.e. Rob’s list Roder, Smith, Denison, Lansing, et al… these may have a vested interest in twisting the facts. In fact, we all may have similar goals. Nonetheless:

    Deep Throat was: (pick 1) one of us? One of them? Who knows – but undeniably, he contributed to the presses ability to out the wrongs.

    In the end it’s all about what people think or know… and how those facts or opinions get assimilated into the Vox Pox.

    While I might be frustrated attempting to expose the other side’s inaccuracies biases, or coverup tactics… In the end, I feel that short of winning an election and adding a principled voice to the Official sounding board… the next best thing is open discussion. The bigger the better.

    RELEVANT QUESTION: Is this “sign up sheet” suppose to become a thread of discourse?

    Do we need Sean Hayford O’leary to write a “thing” so all we can say here is: NAME and YES, Sign me up!

    October 2, 2007
  14. Rob Hardy said:

    Yes, perhaps Victor is right (he often is), but I still do find it difficult to reconcile Barbara’s “sunlight, fresh air, and openness” and John’s “more openness” when we’re talking about a closed blog discussion.

    October 2, 2007
  15. Christine Stanton said:

    I would like to be included if you think I might be a good addition to the conversation. My hope is that the article might help others learn something from our struggles here in Northfield in order to help their own communities.

    October 2, 2007
  16. Julie Bixby said:

    I think this is a great idea! I would love to be included!

    October 2, 2007
  17. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Here is my suggestion if you decide to proceed forward:

    Get a podcast with Mr. Tevlin so that we know why he is interested in writing about Northfield. Or, at least have him participate in this thread so that we can assess his motivations and rationale.

    I’m having difficulty conceiving of this as a good idea. Northfield has already received so much bad press; I don’t know why we would want to invite more.

    Plus, I don’t know what Mr. Tevlin could add to what Locally Grown has already produced.

    October 2, 2007
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Dave L: Are you back? I thought you signed off, or said “Count me out!”
    But that’s what I love about NF; a truly engaged citizenry; they can’t help themselves, even after they quit!

    October 2, 2007
  19. Larry DeBoer said:

    David is right. This “reeks” of the 1983 scandal that has labeled and tainted Jordan forever. For those who don’t remember the story see

    October 2, 2007
  20. Rob Hardy said:

    Kiffi (#18): Why shouldn’t David be back? In his original post, Griff said, “And if you have suggestions on how we might better run this, please speak up!”

    October 2, 2007
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    Sorry to be a bit of a laggard in replying… I’m up north, doing a little community blogging training, ironically enough. I don’t think I’m going to teach them this, tho!

    I’m guessing Jon Tevlin will want to do misc interviews (phone, F2F) with city hall folks and others: Lansing, Roder, councilors, etc. Ross, Tracy and I just gave him some background on all the issues and from here on out, it’s up to him to do whatever good reporters do.

    David L, as for whether this will be good for Northfield, I don’t know. I didn’t initiate this with Jon. He contacted us.

    My idea, possibly hair-brained, is to see if some citizen input/feedback while he’s working on the story can be helpful in making the story as accurate and complete as possible.

    Imagine if Strib reporter Herón Márquez Estrada, who wrote the “Crime follows heroin to Northfield” front page story following Chief Smith’s press conference, had posted a draft of his story here first asking for input/feedback on it. That might have made a huge difference in what got printed.

    Rob H, there’s nothing deepthroatish about this, as far as I know. It’s just a reporter working on a story, using the internet to say to the citizenry “Here’s what I’ve got so far, what might I be missing?” If Lee Lansing or Al Roder or anyone else he interviews wants access to the discussion, same as all of you, that’s fine with me.

    As for Jon’s or the Strib’s rationale, I don’t sense any hidden agenda other than it’s an intriguing story that’s getting more interesting by the week. Jon’s welcome to chime in here but I’d doubt he’ll want to spend much time on the meta issues. He’s got a story to write.

    The only reason I suggested making the discussion private was to deter other reporters from using his stuff.

    October 2, 2007
  22. kiffi summa said:

    Rob: re: post # 20… this sort of teasing about leaving/coming back; saying “this is over” BUT “I have just one more thing to say”, has been an ongoing friendly jab/joke all summer. At least I have never meant it to not be friendly…
    I’m totally serious about the “engaged citizenry”; DL’s “angst” (as I referred to it) about the Comp Plan process added a lot of depth to that discussion. To me, it’s not that we have to all agree; it’s that we all have to think.
    Sorry if it sounded naughty; believe me, Dave would have come back at me if he wanted to.
    Hey…haven’t you been in England? Isn’t that where the Parliament stands up and yells at each other like a bunch of well-accented, uppity street toughs?

    October 2, 2007
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    John G, I won’t be back in town till thurs night but email me re: a time to meet for coffee this weekend.

    Larry, part of your post appears to have gotten chopped off. Can you post again and then I’ll delete the original.

    Bob E, did my comments in #21 alleviate any of your concerns?

    Christine you’ve been a valued contributor here for months. Of course you’ll be in. Everyone else who’s posted, likewise.

    October 2, 2007
  24. Rob Hardy said:

    Okay, I fold. Sign me up, Griff. I’m really interested in how this works. I’ve met all three of you face-to-face at least once (I waved at you at Goodbye Blue Monday last week, remember?). I’m not in competition with the Strib. I won’t leak classified information, and I will follow the general guidelines and not make sarcastic ad hominem remarks about that nice Kiffi Summa.

    October 2, 2007
  25. John George said:

    Griff- I work Saturdays- get home about 7:00 pm. I could do Sunday afternoon, unless the weather dries out a little. The flying field beckons in good weather. I’m off Monday & Tuesday. Let me know what works. I’ll be on the lookout for Victor setting mood music for us! On second thought, I’ll wear my son’s “Landscapes by George” denim shirt. I think I have a little different perspective to share, what being an outsider moved into the community.

    Victor- There is a difference between a bore and a Borgh (Re.: Star Trek). I’m sure Griff is neither.

    As far as this having any effect on what gets published in the Strib, I don’t have really high hopes, but it’s sure worth a try. I know a number of my editorials have made file 13, but a few have actually been printed! Maybe there is might in the sheer numbers of us.

    October 2, 2007
  26. Victor summa said:

    J George – how will you know Griff when you see him?

    I envision music… harps, violins and then… a chourus.

    “Some enchanted morning… you will meet a stranger… you will see a stranger across a coffee bar”

    Griff is the one wearing the eye piece that checks DNA via the eyeball diagnosis. Careful. Avert your stare. Is it it just a brief check in or will there be an extended coming together? Will one walk like a zombie after the meeting.

    And, to Rob H – Bring it on… Kiffi can take it! 51 years w/me. 52 counting summer stock. And all those long road trips were I had her captive in the car at 60MPH. She’s a gamer!

    Let’s give JT something to write about. Have to get Brendon Etter involved. And David Schlosser. (perplexed) Has anyone ever seen either of them F 2 F

    Are they real or a faux commenters?

    Knowing Griff… they may be electronic ringers. E mail postal frauds. Were their addresses now or ever Liberian based? Come to think of it, have we heard from either since the I-35 Bridge thing? Are they the two hunched over in the back of the Rube, sneaking smokes?

    October 2, 2007
  27. Randy Jennings said:


    I admire your zeal for sparking community conversation, and I truly respect the time and effort you, Ross and Tracy put into Locally Grown, but…

    I don’t buy the rationale for creating a secret society to provide a journalist with some form of priviledged access to community issues. If Northfield’s problems are sufficiently interesting to the StarTribune, its reporters are free to read your opinions and the opinions of others here, just as any reporter is free to sit at the bar of the Contented Cow or the corner table at Blue Monday and eavesdrop on community chatter. He or she can then apply the standards and practices of journalism to sort the speculation from fact and do the unbiased legwork of finding sources of confirmation prior to reporting. Although blog posts can certainly provide clues as to where to dig, it scares the dickens out of me to think that a serious journalist would consider a blog post a credible source of anything but the opinions of a self-selected few.

    Setting aside the journalistic issues, the real question for me is why you feel the need to take this conversation underground? When I look at the issues with which Northfield has struggled over the past few months, every single one of them was either caused by, or exacerbated by, secrecy. And every single issue would have been better understood, if not diffused, by more real investigation and reporting. To establish a members-only club of Locally Grown insiders to steer an intrepid young (?) reporter through the minefields of Northfield’s issues and personalities seems like a step away from transparency and good journalism, not toward more of them.

    As a lurker here, I find the couple dozen or so regular LG contributors to be impassioned, often entertaining, generally thoughtful, and many other good things. I also find that many threads devolve quickly into a lot of half-informed opinions and speculation presented as fact. (Perhaps one reason I do not often post here is that on most local issues I consider myself half-informed, and don’t want to speak without sufficient background knowledge or information.)

    I do not, though, find this self-selected group to be particularly representative of the larger community. Not knowing Mr. Tevlin or the time and effort he has or will put into understanding the community as a whole, I worry. Maybe I should just get in touch with my inner Alfred E. Newman and go back to lurking.

    At the risk of irritating Kiffi… count me out of the secret society, but please don’t take away the opportunity for the rest of us to follow the conversation by conducting it in the electronic equivalent of a smoke-filled back room. This community has enough of that already.


    October 2, 2007
  28. Anne Bretts said:

    Bravo, Randy! What a great summary of the concerns others of us have.
    Good luck to Mr. Tevlin. I will be working in an orphanage in Ecuador for the next week, so happily I’ll miss this experiment. I’m sure Mr. Tevlin will do a fine story. I respect his willingness to try new ways of connecting, I’m sure he’ll be able to determine whether the effort generates anything useful.

    October 3, 2007
  29. kiffi summa said:

    Randy: I think you have some very valid concerns, and I couldn’t agree with you more on the issue of secrecy and the truly serious mess it has exacerbated. (If you watch the council on TV, you’ll see that I told them that at open mic at Monday’s meeting.)
    But how will the public force this information that we are (all ) seeking out in the open? It will not come voluntarily; that is evident. Who is speaking in the newspaper , or open mic at council, and insisting that they stop their negative behavior? I would love it if every open mic this month had people there telling the council of their concerns for the community in the face of all this behind the scenes “stuff”.
    Maybe this is not the best way, and I actually doubt that it will make any difference at all to “the powers that be”; but given that this is not a community that feels comfortable making waves, but cares deeply about its community, I’m willing to try almost anything.

    October 3, 2007
  30. Erling Jorstad said:

    I’d be happy to participate

    October 3, 2007
  31. David Ludescher said:

    Excellent comments by Randy Jennings at post #28.

    If Mr. Tevlin wants a story, let’s do it right here, in the open where everyone’s opinion and the facts are subject to immediate peer review.

    October 3, 2007
  32. Randy Jennings said:

    Correction to post #28: Alfred E.’s last name is actually spelled “Neuman”. A slip of the keyboard that snuck past the fact-checkers.

    October 3, 2007
  33. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy and David L, what would you say if Jon contacts you and says “I’m working on a story about city hall and I’d like to get some local business folks’ reactions to what’s going on and feedback on what I’ve gathered thus far. Could I phone you/meet for coffee?”

    Your arguments sound like you’d decline, that you’d want no part of a behind-the-scenes discussion with a reporter unless it could be recorded for all to hear or conducted in front of live audience of citizens at the library or some other public place.

    I’d argue that that’s short-sighted. Why not meet with him to give him your take on things, even if ‘half-informed’?

    You also don’t address the fact that reporters/media organizations generally don’t like to be scooped by their competition. I’m open to ideas on how to better handle all this but this issue needs to be taken into account.

    October 3, 2007
  34. Larry DeBoer said:

    Griff, in my post #19 I was trying to leave a WiKI address –,_Minnesota . This describes the story about a scandal in Jordan in 1983 that was created when the press, city/county officials published citizen rumors and innuendo and listened to unsubstantiated stories from children. It turned out to be a hoax, mainly, but the negative impacts on the town of Jordan remain today. Even after 24 years have passed these negatives still come up on the first page of of Google responses.

    October 3, 2007
  35. Randy Jennings said:

    Griff, re you note #34:
    Personally, I would be happy to respond to a reporter’s initiative by speaking to the extent of my knowledge, which the reporter would find, to his or her disappointment, is limited on just about every topic. I’d also be happy to refer him or her to others in the community I think would be better informed on a given issue.

    If I read your original post correctly, the reporter approached you on these terms, and it was *your* suggestion to make it a secretive process. You wrote:

    “I suggested to him that we set up a private blog post/discussion thread where he could interact with interested citizens and community leaders as he works on the story. I suggested that it be private since most reporters don’t want to be scooped by the competition.”

    That’s the piece I find very problematic. I’m not quite sure why you feel it important to help the reporter gain a competitive advantage at the expense of transparent community discussion. I understand that you get to be the gatekeeper on what is clearly your forum, and that you get to deepen a working relationship with a reporter who writes on topics in which you have an interest. I understand that the reporter gets help protecting his “scoop,” such as it is. What I don’t understand is what the community gets out of such secrecy.

    And lest you think my comment about you and the reporter having shared interest in the topic is a veiled accusation of conflicts of interest, let me assure you that it is not. I think you are very disciplined about declaring and disclosing conflicts, real or perceived. But I think you do have an interest in seeing the blog tool used in ways that may or may not align with the community’s interests. In this case, the issue, for me, is secrecy, not a journalist’s curiosity or new researching and reporting techniques.


    October 3, 2007
  36. Randy Jennings said:

    Griff, I didn’t directly address your last question about journalists not liking to be scooped. That’s their problem, not our community’s. I really don’t see how you can promote LG as a community blog, and then create a proprietary focus group for the benefit of a single commercial entity of your choosing. Maybe you can unpack that one for me.


    October 3, 2007
  37. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy, I’d make the same offer to Suzi Rook at the Northfield News or any other reporter who’s interested in crafting a story with citizen input BEFORE it gets published.

    You and many others (me, too) have been critical of some of the media’s coverage of the heroin story. I’m trying to come up with a way that might improve their coverage.

    As long as I’m opening up the ‘closed’ discussion to virtually everyone, I don’t see why transparency is an issue. It’s a pretty porous gate I’m keeping. You say that worries about being scooped is a reporter’s problem, which is true. But it’s also our problem. We want to convince reporters to share drafts of their stories with citizens before they’re published.

    How could it be done?

    October 3, 2007
  38. Randy Jennings said:

    Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t want reporters sharing their drafts with citizens before they are published. I want reporters to do the legwork of confirming facts and challenging official reports before they write and publish. That is what was missing in the first heroin stories, not access to blog opinions and the people who write them.

    So, when you ask “How could it be done?”, I have a very different “it” in mind.


    October 3, 2007
  39. Wow, many good points delivered on this complex issue.

    I have a different perspective.

    My problem with this whole thing is that this Star-Tribune journalist is not a leggy, buxom, exotic, sexy supermodel/ reporter/ zoologist/ crimefighter/ gourmet chef who also has time to take care of all my physical and emotional needs.

    Aren’t we all entitled to this much in America? “We” being heterosexual men. “All” being more narrowly-defined as “me”.

    I would enter into private conversations with such a reporter in a sweaty, passionate heartbeat.

    Lengthy, intricate, deep conversations.

    I don’t think that’s too much to expect.

    Also, she would drive a really nice car.

    And play guitar.

    October 3, 2007
  40. Griff Wigley said:

    Okay, Randy, that helps me understand why you’re against this. I’d like the same from reporters, but in an imperfect media world that’s increasingly negatively affected by the corporate profit squeeze, it’s likely that it’ll often not occur… which is why there’s now such a thing as crowdsourcing. See this NYTimes piece on it.

    I’ll see if I can get Mr. Public Journalism, professor Len Witt (full disclosure, he’s a client) to chime in here.

    October 3, 2007
  41. David Ludescher said:

    If Tevlin called me and wanted to get my reaction to the City Hall workings, I would ask, “Why do you care?”.

    If Tevlin can convince me that he has the good of Northfield in his heart, I would speak to him – in person, and recorded. But, if he is writing the story so that he can have a mass produced product to sell, then we would be wasting each other’s time.

    Northfield’s state of affairs is a problem for Nothfielders to solve. I fear that talking to the StarTribune will only make matters worse. But, I would be willing to listen if Tevlin wanted to convince me (and Jennings, Ewing, and others) otherwise.

    October 3, 2007
  42. As for Mr. Summa’s question (comment #26) about anyone having ever seen me face-to-face, I can only ask if he’s come to a NAG play over the last five years?

    For crying out loud! Who is this Mr. Summa to question my very existence?

    We’ve got Glengarry Glen Ross coming up this weekend, for instance. You can see my ugly mug swearing up a storm in that one. Go. It’s awesome. “F2F” stands for something quite different in the context of that show.

    And, no, I do not sneak smokes in the back of the “Rube”, although here’s a list of things you or anyone else can still do indoors after the draconian no smokey-smokey laws of aught-seven:

    Hopefully, this Mr. V. Summa, if he really exists, can partake of some of these practices at the Rueb or some other local hangout that he also spells incorrectly.

    Indeed, good sir, I stand most poignantly flummoxed by your querulous consternations!

    October 3, 2007
  43. Rob Hardy said:

    I would think Mr. Tevlin probably doesn’t have “the good of Northfield in his heart.” He probably wants a good story. If he’s a responsible journalist, he wants that story to have as much truth in it as he can uncover. But his job isn’t to promote Northfield or, on the other hand, to tarnish its image.

    Anyone who wanders onto Locally Grown and reads some of the comments of Victor and Brendon is already going to thing Northfield is an intensely weird place.

    I lived for four years in Providence, RI, which had more official scandal than Northfield could ever dream of. We don’t have a mayor like Buddy Cianci, who hired thugs to beat up his ex-wife’s lover with burning fireplace logs. But that was part of the charm of Providence.

    October 3, 2007
  44. I think “intensely weird” is a wonderful draw for a community. Good job, Victor! Good job, me!

    PS: I’m also intensely handsome.

    “burning fireplace logs”? Wow, usually I just whack people with regular-old, unburning fireplace logs; never thought of lighting them first…


    October 3, 2007
  45. Christine Stanton said:

    Griff wrote, “Imagine if Strib reporter Herón Márquez Estrada, who wrote the “Crime follows heroin to Northfield” front page story following Chief Smith’s press conference, had posted a draft of his story here first asking for input/feedback on it. That might have made a huge difference in what got printed.”

    That is an excellent point.

    Secondly, I do not see how this is any different than a verbal interview with a reporter. I might even be better, in my opinion, as what we say can be documented in context. The conversation will be posted in public after the article is published on LG, correct?

    October 3, 2007
  46. Griff Wigley said:

    LOL. Mr. Tevlin, you may regret this experiment.

    October 3, 2007
  47. Christine Stanton said:

    Oops. I meant to say that the conversation will be posted in public on LG after the article is published.

    October 3, 2007
  48. victor summa said:

    Brendon’s back! – evidently he does exist – See him nightly at the NAG – why would anyone refer to their point of cultural dissemination as the NAG?

    Rueb Rube Rub a dub.. the point is I missed your missives. If you haven’t scared Jon Tevlin away, perhaps he’ll use some of your twisted verse in his.

    On your point of smokless nights and sites – you sir, are wrong. In an atmosphere were things are “coming unhinged” and the “wheels are coming off” I think your rant of protest is a bit stagy. That aside, I’m hoping your back, for a fact, I’ve missed your wit.

    As to your five year romp across the foot lights on the “Little Theater halfway up the Block” I would not thought that wee stage big enough to contain your dramatic pose. As to “intensely handsome… I would have thought “handsomely intense” was more accurate.

    Welcome home!

    October 3, 2007
  49. Curt Benson said:

    Christine and Griff, I don’t think you are being fair or realistic in what you expected from the Strib’s reporter Estrada. The original Strib article isn’t available online anymore, so I can’t be entirely certain I remember it right, but I believe Estrada’s first article was only a recounting of Police Chief Smith’s press conference. Estrada had no other sources than the Chief and Schroeder. Was Estrada supposed to fact check all of Smith’s claims prior to publishing a report of the press conference? I don’t think so…the TV stations had already gone on the air with the same info Estrada printed the next day. At the time, Estrada had no reason to think Smith was engaging in hyperbole–or what ever the hell Smith was engaging in.

    Estrada didn’t make up the idea that roving bands of Northfield’s youth were ripping off the colleges, or walking the halls of the Mayo Clinic in search of drugs– those ideas came from Smith and Schroeder.

    A week or two later, the Strib did an article refuting some of Chief Smith’s claims. I don’t know how it could have worked otherwise.

    I don’t think holding an article that is based on timely news (ie. Northfield’s Police Chief reporting sensational news at his press conference) until it could be fact checked by bloggers is a realistic ideal.

    Now, an ongoing, in depth investigation based on events happening over a longer period of time could be helped by the blogosphere.

    That said, I agree with the points made by Randy and David–I don’t want to participate in a closed group.

    October 3, 2007
  50. kiffi summa said:

    Wait! Wait just a little minute, here. I can NOT believe that anyone, who feels we are losing our journalistic ethics in the mainstream media, would suggest that a reporter let the subject of an article go over that reporter’s work and Correct( ? ) it before they publish it.
    That’s like a city administrator asking a reporter to let him see the article the reporter is writing before it’s printed, and expecting that to be a reasonable request!
    The burden is on the interviewee to be sincere, and responsible for what they say… and the reporter to ask the right questions when they have doubts about what is being said.
    Would everyone who wants to be involved in this please read some journalism 101, and consider that this a serious attempt to deal with a major process mess, in our dear old NF, and it’s not a gossip rant.
    You need to think about what you say, and be clear when it’s speculation, but still a concern about what SEEMS to be happening.
    It’s your responsibility to NOT say anything you don’t want to stand behind.
    If something is a fact, say so… If something is an opinion, say so.

    October 3, 2007
  51. Randy Jennings said:

    With all due respect, Griff, I don’t think you are interested in objections or challenges to your plan. In your response in post #41, you’ve chosen to address to only one of the three questions I posed with a reference to imperfect corporate media and crowdsourcing. I suppose the implication is that if this phenomenon is reported in the paper that brought us all the news that’s fit to print, then it must be credible. I’d say that, at best, that case hasn’t yet gone to the jury.

    The other two questions I posed are: 1) (from post #36, quoting your original post) why did you suggest this be a secretive process? How is Nfld served by your protecting a news organization from competition (as if there is a groundswell of interest in getting to the bottom of Nlfd’s issues). Isn’t such secrecy directly counter to the ethos of open conversation that is supposed to be the rule here?

    2) (from post #37) would you explain how you can promote LG as a community blog, and then create a proprietary focus group (even a porous one, as you described it) for the benefit of a single commercial entity of your choosing? (If the answer is, it’s my blog and I can do what I want, then I’ll respect that, quit yapping about it, not expect a more serious answer. Freedom of the press still belongs to those who own one (or can rent server space). As it was and ever shall be…).

    If citizen journalism is a good thing, then why not its reciprocal: journalist participation? Why isn’t Mr. Tevlin involved in this conversation? In my view, the way he’s been introduced has already compromised any pretense of objectivity in either telling the story of this “experiment” (to use your term), or in reporting on community issues. Somehow, I doubt that the lead of his first piece is going to be, “Down in Northfield, people I’ve never met are burning up the blogosphere talking about me as if I wasn’t listening…” C’mon, Mr. Tevlin. Jump in feet first…the water’s fine.

    Yours in the spirit of honest disagreement,


    October 3, 2007
  52. John George said:

    My word! I think all that’s been expressed here is a better insight into the community than anything the Strib could author! Tell me, Griff, are you going to get a copyright on this?

    One thing to consider in this, are we advocating news reporting of only verified conclusions concerning events? Is there a place to report on the process (which can take quite some time) before a verified conclusion is established?

    I would agree that the idea of the reporter opening up his article to us before publishing it is a little like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Anyway, I thought this was what editors are for. Perhaps there is a need for an ouiside observer to report on what is developing in this town. I think it is difficult to have a good perspective of the picture when one is in it.

    Griff- I have to go to Iowa this weekend to tend to a medical problem with my mother. Whatever happens with this thread, I would still like to meet you. I’ll be in touch next week.

    October 4, 2007
  53. David DeLong said:

    If it’s not too late I’d like to participate.

    October 4, 2007
  54. Ross Currier said:

    I don’t think any one of us thinks that the recent headlines have accurately portrayed our community. Still feeling some guilt about being involved with an organization, Locally Grown, that perhaps added fuel to the heroin pyrotechnics, I was not very excited about another article in the Strib about Northfield.

    However, unless we’re going to close our borders to reporters, if they want to write about us, they will.

    Jon seemed to think that my opening in a recent blog post, “The last few months have seen some incredible headlines for Northfield. Heroin Destroys Small Town, Police Chief Takes Leave, Mayor Pushes Too Hard, Church Invades State, City Administrator Criminally Investigated, Council Member Sues Council Member, and Woodley Whoops Threatens Project”, seemed to summarize the projected situation well. He was also amused by my speculation, “Has Dundas’ New Tower Put Madness in Northfield’s Water?” (As I told Jon, I’m going to continue to blame Dundas; that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.)

    It seemed to me that Jon agreed that the headlines projected a distorted view of Northfield and was interested in creating a more accurate portrait.

    I think that everyone who has engaged in the lively discussion of these issues has, at least in a small way, contributed to the fireworks attracting attention up in The Cities. But I believe, and I think that the comment-makers on this site would agree, that it’s far better than a state where free speech is prohibited.

    I also think that in spite of the fact that we seem to enjoy complaining and criticizing, we truly love Northfield; otherwise, we’d move to Lonsdale or Minnetonka, right?

    So, given an opportunity to express our thoughts on all these crazy headlines, and our theories about the true stories underneath, to a Strib reporter, couldn’t we also be sure to mention the positives too? If you’re concerned about how this latest article in the Strib will portray Northfield, just speak out in Griff’s virtual parking ramp about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

    Hey, they’re not only trying to doing a more balanced story about Northfield, they’re even giving us a fairly open opportunity to shape that story.

    October 4, 2007
  55. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Randy is right; it is your blog and you get to decide. I can understand why you might do it for your business. But, it seems that Tevlin’s plan is contrary to the whole concept of Locally Grown.

    I concur with Randy J. in inviting Mr. Tevlin to join the conversation. I see no reason why you need to run interference for him.

    October 4, 2007
  56. Griff Wigley said:

    Jon’s been out sick the past few days, so I’m not sure what the status is for this story.

    Randy wrote:

    I suppose the implication is that if this phenomenon is reported in the paper that brought us all the news that’s fit to print, then it must be credible. I’d say that, at best, that case hasn’t yet gone to the jury.

    Randy, it really is happening. In this new world, the journalist functions also as a bit of a moderator. Jeff Jarvis, prof and director of the New Media Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, posted on this phenomenon of ‘networked journalism’ to his blog about a year ago. I just listened to a podcast where he mentioned that he’s teaching a course on it this fall. And Jeff has organized a conference on networked journalism next week in NYC.

    The premise of all this is that even as journalistic organizations may shrink, along with their revenue bases, journalism itself can and must expand and it will do that through collaborative work. The internet makes that collaboration possible and we’ve barely begun to explore the opportunities it affords. A year or two ago, the point of such a meeting might have been evangelizing this idea. But in that time, a number of great projects in collaborative, networked journalism have taken off. So now is the time to share the lessons — success and failures — from these efforts and to determine what’s needed to move on to the next goals. By bringing together about 150 practitioners from all sides, we hope that the meeting itself can spark new partnerships and projects.

    NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen blogged about this a year ago, too: The Era of Networked Journalism Begins.

    Randy wrote:

    why did you suggest this be a secretive process? How is Nfld served by your protecting a news organization from competition (as if there is a groundswell of interest in getting to the bottom of Nlfd’s issues). Isn’t such secrecy directly counter to the ethos of open conversation that is supposed to be the rule here?

    I suggested it because I’d hoped to convince Jon to do more than interact with us about the city hall issues. I’d like him to post drafts of the article, which is pretty much unheard of. I figured he wouldn’t even consider doing that unless there was some way to keep it semi-private. So it was my scheme, not his, and one that I’d hope would serve the citizenry by giving us all a chance to make the article as fair and balanced and complete as possible. In other words, what we give up in the way of openness, we’d gain in the way of influence.

    Randy wrote:

    would you explain how you can promote LG as a community blog, and then create a proprietary focus group (even a porous one, as you described it) for the benefit of a single commercial entity of your choosing?

    I didn’t choose the Strib. Jon contacted us. I wrote above in #38 that I’d do this with Suzi Rook or any other reporter. And LG is not a community blog. It’s a Ross/Tracy/Griff blog. is a community blog because anyone can post there, within their guidelines.

    October 6, 2007
  57. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: Just curious … what’s the status of this project?
    Best wishes to Jon Tevlin, if he’s still ill …

    October 14, 2007
  58. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve not heard back from him, Kiffi… I’ll try to get an answer this week.

    October 15, 2007
  59. Larry DeBoer said:

    Jon Tevlin,
    It is October in Northfield and all the spooks, goblins, weirdos and nutcases are out in full force for an early Halloween. But, come quick for your interviews, before the witch trials begin. All you have to do is read the blogs to identify the citizens from the spooks.

    October 17, 2007
  60. Scott Davis said:

    I received the email below this morning from Jon Devlin, regarding my concerns about a private group of citizens selecting the individuals that would provide input to him… based on the criteria in the opening of the blog:

    “Here’s our current plan on how it’s going to work (we could change our minds):

    I’ll start a new blog post, make it private, and hand out usernames and passwords to anyone who’s interested, with these qualifiers:

    * you’re a local, have met me, Ross or Tracy face-to-face at least once, and we think you’d be a good addition to the conversation
    * you’re not a member of a media organization that competes with the Strib
    * if you’re not local, Jon knows you and approves of your participation
    * you agree to not communicate (blogging, email, etc) with others about what’s being discussed”


    From: Jon Tevlin []
    Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 11:44 AM
    Subject: Re: Northfield article


    We did not do this, and it’s unlikely I will. We simply discussed doing it, with no commitment, and I did read the input. I am no longer covering the Northfield situation, to my knowledge.

    That said, it’s not much different from me calling people, asking them who else I should talk to, and deciding who to quote and who not to quote. I do that every single day. And of course if I had participated in the idea, I would have also called people outside that group and any city officials who were relevent.

    As I explained to Griff on the phone, I don’t even like MY EDITORS looking over my shoulder while I work on a story, much less a lot of people with potential axes to grind.



    October 19, 2007
  61. Bob Ewing said:

    Now THAT’S the First Amendment . . .

    Jon Tevlin wrote:

    “I am no longer covering the Northfield situation, to my knowledge.”

    StarTribune: 50 cents

    Not knowing what you’re writing about: Priceless

    October 19, 2007
  62. kiffi summa said:

    It feels like something went wrong here, Griff … your #47 post may have been prophetic.
    I’d really like to know if/why Mr. Tevlin is “no longer covering Northfield”; interoffice dynamics? scary citizens? too much convoluted controversy =no way to a possible truth? Council person(s) “warning” him off?
    Feels way bad …

    October 20, 2007
  63. Griff Wigley said:

    I’d doubt there’s anything nefarious about Jon’s “no longer covering Northfield.” The Strib has evidently dropped Northfield from its ongoing South Metro coverage and they’ve got him working on other stories. Reporter Sarah Lemagie is likely to keep her eye out for more ‘Northfield bombshells’ like this week.

    Scott (Nfld City Councilor), you wrote to Tevlin because you were concerned “… about a private group of citizens selecting the individuals that would provide input to him”

    Did Jon’s reply satisfy you? It did me, and that was certainly our intention from the start, though I can see how I didn’t explain it well enough.

    I’d still like to experiment, ie, Locally Grown and our group of readers working with professional journalists on local stories, as explored at last week’s Networked Journalism Summit. For more on all the terms, ie:

    “Citizen Journalism”
    “Stand-alone journalism”
    “Participatory journalism”(Pro-Am Journalism)
    “Network journalism”
    “Open source journalism”
    “Distributed reporting”
    “Crowdsourced Journalism”

    see this blog post by one of the organizers of the Summit:
    Network Journalism Versus Citizen Journalism Versus the Myriad of Other Names for Social Media in the News World

    October 20, 2007
  64. victor summa said:

    Griff and Scott and Jon (if you’re still lurking)

    I’m not going back to read all the setup and ground rules laid out by Griff stemming from the Big Three’s September 28th meeting with Jon Tevlin… then regurgitated here by many ad nauseam… and now three weeks after the breach birth of the idea… comes Tevlin’s mia culpa.. or was that a disclaimer? Or maybe that’s unfair.

    What we really don’t know it seems… is one more thing about process here in Northfield and maybe at the Mpls Strib too.

    Nonetheless… my interest in adding my name to the “list of hopeful participants” was to enable a light shedding on the issue and perhaps, for a lightning to strike!

    Now comes this revelation from the Strib’s guy – simply that he’s no longer covering Northfield!

    His decision?

    His bosses?

    Al Roder’s? Lee Lansing’s? Anne Brettes’?


    Interestingly enough… reading between the lines of Tevlin’s response to Scott Davis… it sounded to me like this was a decision made in the past… 15 minutes, or 15 days… who can say? In any event, why did this decision come to Scott and not Locally Grown. Is this “bait and switch”? Who’s the switcher?

    As Griff would say: Dang!

    My pencil’s been sharpened… waiting for the press gates to swing open. Double dang!

    Whose idea was this anyway?

    October 20, 2007
  65. Anne Bretts said:

    Ah, Victor, you know the old saying about what happens when you assume things, although I’m flattered that you I hold me in same league as Lee and Al. (Or given the recent headlines, maybe not.)
    I have not been lunching with the editors at the Strib, but having been a union president alongside the metro union leaders, I have a pretty good understanding of their operations — and the frustration of their workers.
    The Strib, like a lot of other large newspapers, operates like a pinball machine. As soon as a reporter or editor leaves, the powers that be snap all the others into play and heaven knows where they will land. Northfield is mildly amusing, but hardly has enough news, readers or advertising influence to be more than a marginal consideration in the corporate strategy — or lack of one.
    I’m sure Jon is as unhappy as other reporters are in having to bounce from story to story without enough time to develop any beat in depth. Sounds like he had an idea and floated it, then the group here took off and made more of it than it was.

    October 20, 2007
  66. kiffi summa said:

    I think it’s too bad this experiment didn’t get to happen. But with all the kvetching, I’m not surprised.
    It would have been really good for all of us to help focus our thoughts; it’s sometimes too tempting to just REPLY.
    Then again, why is it wrong to just REPLY; isn’t this the online coffee house? I’d like a statement from all three of the famous triumverate, as to what this IS! And if that’s just a little too Clintonesque, as john George said to me”Get used to it”…
    Do you think the Dems have a candidate, a year before the election?
    Or IS that not, what IS?

    October 20, 2007
  67. Griff Wigley said:

    Originally, Jon contacted me about possibly doing a story on city hall. I suggested the above scheme to Ross and Tracy and we then pitched it to Jon when he came to visit. It’s been in limbo for a while since both Jon and I were traveling and then Jon replied to Scott when he wrote to him. Case apparently closed.

    October 22, 2007

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