By Sue Quist
Changes are afoot regarding communications on the Northside. Pro Media, Inc. published its last edition of the NorthNews on November 24, 2015. Pro Media has published a quality newspaper for North Minneapolis since 1991, when the publisher responded to requests for a newspaper like the Northeaster for the Northside. Pro Media is less well known than the names of the publishers and editors, Kerry and Margo Ashmore. Together they published and delivered a newspaper that people looked forward to receiving on their doorstep monthly until Kerry’s death in January 2014. Margo Ashmore continued to publish the NorthNews, but earlier this year she announced the sale of the paper and that its last publication would be the November issue.
The announced sale brought interested parties and Pillsbury United Communities made an offer to purchase the NorthNews. In the November issue it was reported that Pillsbury United Communities would take over the paper in 2016 and publisher, Margo Ashmore gave her endorsement stating, “I am confident they will manage NorthNews professionally.” On December 3, Pillsbury United Communities announced their Community Media Initiative, which will include the purchase of the NorthNews and also the launch of a low-power FM radio station which will operate out of the Waite House in South Minneapolis.
Adair Mosley, Chief of Staff for Pillsbury United Communities, said that they plan to “hold onto the history that Margo created” by “publishing important news and content that the readers say they want.” He said the paper will be lifting up the positive aspects of the community. Pillsbury United Communities is in the process of hiring an editor and publisher, and plans to use seasoned journalists. Mosley said, “Pillsbury United Communities won’t be dictating to the editor what they can publish and is looking for an editor that will be on the ground and in the community getting ideas for meaningful articles and reporting on the issues that are important to people.”
Mosley said that Pillsbury United Communities will use the newspaper to employ youth and enhance their employment training programs. He said the rich array of training opportunities, including journalism, graphic design, sports reporting, sales, advertising and digital production as some of the job training opportunities that they hope to offer. Ashmore said that from what she understands of Pillsbury United Communities’ plans for the paper she is excited. “They are doing the kind of thing I would have liked to do, but their non-profit status allows them to apply for grants to do these programs.”
Pillsbury United Communities plans to roll out the first edition of the new NorthNews in March 2016. The paper will be published monthly for the first year and bimonthly starting the second year. Pillsbury will continue the same distribution as Pro Media, Inc. and plans to increase the digital production of the paper. In regards to publishing the NorthNews for nearly 25 years, Ashmore said, publishing the NorthNews introduced her to a lot of relationships that made her life rich. “I wanted to do the right thing for the paper and Pillsbury United Communities plans for the paper fit that goal.”