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How can you be an informed citizen without information?

By Pat Eggert

It’s a good question, and one Menomonie area citizens wrestled with at the second meeting of

“Where’s the Local News – Chapter two?” at the Menomonie City Council Chambers on

Wednesday afternoon, March 22. Facilitator Bruce Siebold emphasized the “explore” part of the meeting announcement, and representatives of six local news sites presented to the group.

“It’s just me, I do it myself,” said Kathy Weber, operator of Menomonie Minute, an online news site. “I put stuff out every day.” She publishes event announcements, sports involving local students, some local news and press releases, among other things. Her goal has been toproduce a quality product, with the aim of eventually turning it into a business.

Second was Becca Schoenburn, outreach and education coordinator at Menomonie Market,who described the podcast that she does with Dustyn Dubuque, former MainStreet Menomonie director. The 30–40-minute program, done through EC Hometown Media, isavailable on a number of social media apps, and she estimates they have 100-700 listeners. Theprogram is recorded one month in advance.

Next was Steve Hanson, owner of Hanson records Menomonie school board meetings and other community events and houses them online. He depends on memberships and donations.

Fourth was Carleton DeWitt, owner of DeWitt Media and publisher of the Glenwood City Tribune and the Colfax Messenger, who has been in the newspaper business since he started working in his father’s business sweeping the floor as a nine-year-old. Comments from the group centered on the Messenger’s regular and reliable coverage of the Dunn County Board and committee sessions.

Next was Kate Edenborg, UW Stout professor in the English, Philosophy and Communications Department. “I have three to four students working as interns," Edenborg said, and she is exploring the idea of creating a citizen journalist training course. “People want to contribute but don’t know how to do it.” She is developing a training approach, but “I haven’t been able to move it forward on my own.” She is also working on a research survey of citizens on what they want to know and how they get their news.

Finally, Kelly McCullough, Dunn County Board chair and novelist, talked about how Dunn County is trying to get county news out via its newly updated website.

The next community meeting of the “Where’s the local news” group will be April 27, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm at the Menomonie Public Library.

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