#TVFH | Kyle Klausing | Small Town Journalism

Kyle Klasuing is the editor of the Granite Falls and Clarkfield Advocate Tribune. While the U.S. is having on-going conversations about how to support and maintain local, small town papers, those papers are still doing their thing.

"...[N]o one really talks about like local media as this gigantic monolith, it's these tiny independent pockets of reporters and journalists and you know professionals going into work doing their job, trying to reflect their communities as best they can, and so you get this really diverse kind of all over the place you know different styles, different areas of interest, and that you see that reflected in the paper."

Transcript

There is a much more kind of personal expectation of trust I think that just doesn't really exist organically in the national media, and that's a huge asset. People do trust us, and they trust us because we're local.

There is a really unique and distinctive voice to each small town and consequently I think to the local publications that they have. Within our national media there tends to be a kind of a standardized approach to it, and you kind of think of it as "the mainstream media." But no one really talks about like local media as this gigantic monolith. It's these tiny independent pockets of reporters and journalists and, you know, professionals going into work doing their job, trying to reflect their communities as best they can. And so you get this really diverse kind of, all over the place, you know, different styles, different areas of interest, and that you see that reflected in the paper.

Having that, you know, real local rootedness I think is really important.

When you have content that's kind of handed down from on high so to speak and comes from a newspaper whose headquartered halfway across the country, there is that sense of, you know, kind of being separated from from the real content. And I think it's totally different in a small-town setting where you do know people at the newspaper office.

I mean really always welcomed community submissions so, you know, you're out say like fishing with friends or something and someone catches a really big fish, like we get that all the time. So, they send in the picture with a couple details and, you know, we might follow up with them and maybe do an interview. That doesn't happen automatically. You need to build those relationships and you need to really establish, kind of, yourself as someone as a newspaper that welcomes that, and that really values the community contributions that our readers are able to do.

The community isn't just my subject as a journalist, but it's also kind of my resource. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job has been going to City Council and County Board meetings, and then just generally civic functions, both because it's always fascinating to see what local leaders have to say on local topics, but also the interactions that they have with citizens with community members—it can be pretty wild. It's totally unpredictable sometimes it's just it's really explosive and there's a lot of anger, and other times it's very consensual. And that can really only happen in a small setting.

There's a really fascinating story that's unfolding in Granite Falls. And to be able to document that in real time as it's happening and to take down people's stories and to, you know, in a sense memorialize it and to give a voice to what's happening in the community is a pretty powerful and big responsibility.