Rural News Network

Dutton County CourierMatt Rezac at Blandin just sent me an article (Creating a News Network) on the Rural News Network, which is an online newspaper in Montana that encourages citizen journalism.

Apparently it started when some folks (including students) from the University of Montana went to Dutton, a small town in MT where the local newspaper had recently closed. The students toured the city archiving the stories of the people and showing them how to use the tools to publish future stories, thereby publishing their own newspaper.

It appears to be working. The Dutton County Courier is set up like a blog and seems to get at least 2 posts a month on local events and news. They also have a Flickr feed that serves up community pictures.

The plan seems to be to take the Dutton model and bring it to other rural areas.

The article that Matt sent to me includes an interview with the founders of the Rural News Network. I think they do a fantastic job of explaining how a local newspaper is necessary in a rural town. It keeps people connected, gives them a sense of community, and helps them mobilize (the example was to hold and promote a fundraiser for a sick child).

The examples they use, and the natural ease with which the examples come is worth reading.

I have talked to several people around the Twin Cities who are involved with efforts here to create opportunities for citizen journalism (the Minnesota Monitor and the Twin Cities Daily Planet). It’s fun for me to see the similarities and differences between the urban and rural efforts.

The students in Dutton talk about the difference between journalism from an academic perspective and the role of a small town newspaper. Journalism in the classroom is based more on investigation; journalism on the main street is based more on sharing public information.

I know one issue in the Twin Cities is the desire to put local investigation back into the local news because people have expressed frustration with traditional media resources who seem unable to invest resources into local investigation.

This entry was posted in Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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