May 6 Speaker: Mark Olson, SW Media Regional Editor

Nate Bostrom introduced Mark Olson – a regional editor with Southwest News Media, which includes six newspapers in the southwest metro. He has direct oversight of the Chaska Herald and Chanhassen Villager. He’s been with the Herald since 1997, beginning as a staff writer, and taking over the Herald editor position in 2004. He grew up in Thief River Falls, and got his start at the Thief River Falls Times, after earning a bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He later earned a master’s in journalism at the University of Iowa. Olson has lived in Chaska since 1997.

Mark started by showing his intro photo in the Chaska Herald in 1997.  He warned us that he has plenty of file images of Rotarians from that era, so we should not make negative comments on the way he looked. One of his fun photos compared the paper’s office in 1913 with its unchanged present-day look.  He also compared how the front page of the newspaper HAS changed through the years.  The online editions have changed since 1999 from a simple repeat of the printed stories to the up-to-the minute web pages that are available now.

Discussing the paper’s financial environment provided Mark the opportunity to give us the good news and the bad news.  The print edition cost $1.50 in 1862 but is now Free.  The on-line subscription costs only $48, but that and advertising revenue is still not enough to prevent reductions in staff, editorial content and small-town editions in this time of COVID 19.  Rotarians on this call encouraged ALL club members to support the Herald by subscribing (952-445-3333).

Mark was confident that community journalism is wanted by readers and is an important glue that can bring us together.  Discussions during the Q+A reflected our agreement with those beliefs.

Contact Mark by phone at 651-336-2345 and via email at: editor@chanvillager.com .