Official newspaper designation in Greenfield becomes hot issue

March 30, 2009

by Ryan Gueningsman

A common saying in the newspaper industry is that newspapers should report the news – not be the news.

Some of you may have noticed last week that the South Crow River News reported a story with the headline “Public confronts council about newspaper controversy.”

This story was coverage of the Greenfield City Council’s meeting from March 17, in which a group of Greenfield residents addressed the city council about the recent change of the city’s official newspaper designation from the South Crow River News to the Delano Herald Journal.

In February, the city’s mayor contacted the Delano Herald Journal seeking information about obtaining a bid to publish the city’s public notices, perhaps at a cost savings to the city.

In a time of economic uncertainty, it seemed as if the mayor was seeking an alternate bid for publication of the city’s public notices, perhaps saving the city a few dollars. Nothing wrong with that.

A bid letter was prepared by the management of the Delano Herald Journal and given to the mayor of Greenfield.

In the bid letter, it stated: “While we (the Delano Herald Journal) appreciate the opportunity to bid, and feel we can meet your needs for publishing legal notices, we are unable to commit to any level of newspaper coverage for the community of Greenfield at this time.”

The newspaper feels it can meet the city’s needs as far as publishing its public notices required by law, but beyond that, simply cannot commit to covering another community at this time.

At its meeting March 3, the Greenfield City Council, on a split vote, decided to designate the Delano Herald Journal as the official newspaper for the City of Greenfield.

Questions have been brought up by Greenfield community members of whether appointing the Delano Herald Journal as the city’s official newspaper was an indication city officials were trying to hide or keep something from the public, since it was indicated we could not promise any level of coverage of the community.

I certainly don’t know the specific intent of the city officials. The newspaper was asked to provide a bid for publishing legal notices to the city, which it did, and a majority of the city council voted to make the change.

I understand the city seeking an alternate bid in terms of looking at cost savings, and I feel I’ve been honest to the city about what the newspaper can/cannot provide the city at this time.

City officials need to come together and decide what will best serve the residents of Greenfield, and decide on the best way of getting information out to the public. The Delano Herald Journal strongly believes in the public notice process and the right to know.

While the Delano Herald Journal certainly is willing to work with the city, and appreciates the opportunity to provide public notice services to Greenfield, we await the city council making a final decision and will graciously accept whatever it may be.