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A gift for those who cherish local news
Rick Bussler, Publisher
rick bussler, editor, opinion, hot pursuit

Who says giving only can happen once a year at Christmas time?

Even though we’re almost nearing summer, the Steele County Times is extending a special gift to all our friendly neighbors in Steele County. This week 18,000 households throughout the county are receiving our newspaper through a special mass mailing.

What you’re going to find inside this special gift is real community news that gets at the heart of what it’s like to live in this special area of Minnesota. We have the best interests of Blooming Prairie, Ellendale, Medford and Owatonna in mind with our news coverage.

I’m always humored when I hear people talking about newspapers dying. It’s true some newspapers around the country have folded, but that doesn’t mean the entire industry is ready for the graveyard. As I’m about to share with you, we are actually thriving, not dying.

Last fall the unthinkable happened, at least in my book. In October, we surpassed the daily newspaper in Owatonna with circulation for the first time ever. Total paid circulation as reported to the U.S. Postal Service per postal regulations showed we had more than 500 readers higher than the Owatonna Peoples Press.

Judging by what has happened since then with people flocking to subscribe to our newspaper, I have a feeling that number will grow even wider this coming October when circulation once again must be reported to the Postal Service. Our circulation has gone up by several hundred in the past eight months. Not a week goes by without us picking up at least one new reader and most often many new readers.

In all, our readership has skyrocketed by almost 60% in the past two years. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is a remarkable feat. And it further erodes the theory that newspapers are dying.

We have actually been a countywide newspaper for about eight years. But our success didn’t really kick in until the last couple years.

You may be wondering what sets us apart. We are committed to hometown local news. In fact, our motto, which we have featured for many years, bears that out: ALWAYS LOCAL. ALL THE TIME. We are hyper-local when it comes to community news coverage. As long as we stay relevant to the communities we cover, the Times is going to continue its remarkable journey for the long haul.

Our pages are packed with 100% local news. Some of the greatest compliments I get from readers are those who say it takes them the entire week to read the paper from cover to cover. There is simply too much for them to digest in one sitting of reading the paper.

We also offer a strong line up of veteran journalists who provide strong ethics and are passionate about community journalism. They truly care about the communities they cover. We all love to chronicle notable and newsworthy doings going on in our backyards. We especially love people stories and finding the human-interest angle to what’s going on. Public officials are great at filling in some of the key information, but quite honestly the best stories we share really have nothing to do with them. They’re about normal, everyday people like yourselves.

I think you’ll find that our newspaper is momentum worth reading. It’s humbling for all of us at the Steele County Times to be faced with a situation where people trust us to be their main local news source. This is a responsibility we do not take lightly. We are motivated for the right reasons to serve our communities in a profound way.

I hope you enjoy your special gift this week. In the meantime, we’re in hot pursuit of cranking out the next edition of one of Minnesota’s greatest gems of a newspaper.

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