But then we see a large spread on the personal life of Ted Mondale written by a person known as “CJ”. It is little more than gossip and fiction and is not subject to any journalistic standards. More importantly it makes no known contribution to the public good. Instead it reinforces the fear capable people have of entering public service.
Below is an excerpt of a letter I wrote on April 29, 2010, to Mr. Michael Klingsensmith, publisher and CEO of the Star Tribune. Sadly, I have a yet to receive a response.
During the era of John Cowles, Jr. the Star and Tribune (both separately and combined) defined so much of the progress that made Minneapolis and Minnesota so successful. Their outstanding leadership and talent was a large driving force in coalescing business, labor, community, and political leadership to come together and work toward common goals. Political parties were challenged to offer their best and brightest and the agenda always drove towards the center. Just look at how this coming together of leadership built Minneapolis and Minnesota and, ultimately, was rewarded when Governor Wendell Anderson was on the cover of Time Magazine with adage about Minnesota being a state that works. The Nicollet Mall, major theater, the arts, the Guthrie, Walker Art Museum, major league sports, metropolitan governance, transit, environmental protection, national leadership in health care, equitable school funding, improving the quality of higher education, and on and on is a testimony to the greatness of that partnership and the fingerprints of the Star Tribune are all over it.
Their “gossip” columnist was Barbara Flanagan who was a perpetual advocate for every exciting and creative project in Minneapolis from building design to sidewalk cafes. She understood the people part of projects and always pushed for livability. There should be a statue of her on the Mall.
But it does make a point and that is a quality newspaper gives a positive meaning to community and appeals to the very best in people. That is your challenge.
Simply put, you are in the integrity business and there is no way you can be successful in preaching integrity from the pulpit while operating a bordello on the side.
I pray that you will drive the Star Tribune back to greatness and I will do all in my power to assist.
I think the public has a stake, a very vital stake, in how it gets its information. As a society, we give special status to the media both in terms of taxes and certain protections from slander and libel. But when that privilege is abused, we have the right to protest and insist that journalistic standards be explained and applied.
It is not too much to ask the Publisher about journalistic standards and whether he is willing to allow his personal life and the personal life of his family to be publicly reviewed in the same fashion he permits CJ to examine the lives of others.
A public dialogue is clearly warranted and, preferably, a true change made.