Category Archives: Business

WSJ: “Newspapers need to act like they’re worth something”

This week, L. Gordon Crovitz of The Wall Street Journal wrote the opinion piece, ” Information Wants to Be Expensive: Newspapers need to act like they’re worth something.


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For years, Crovitz wrote, publishers and editors have asked the wrong question: Will people pay to access my newspaper content on the Web? The right question is: What kind of journalism can my staff produce that is different and valuable enough that people will pay for it online?

I’m interested in hearing what folks think of this essay. I’m not sure I agree with everything Mr. Crovitz writes. Haven’t most newspapers always been trying “valuable” content?

If independent writers in Northfield produced content that you valued more than that of a reporter employed by a company, would you be wiling to pay for that independent reporter to keep up his or her news beat?


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Filed under Business, National, Project discussion

Annexation agreement reached

Representatives from Northfield reached an an annexation agreement with Greenvale Township supervisors on Tuesday night. To find out more about this story, see the Representative Journalism Project reports on Original story posting, click here. Most recent posting on the matter, click here.


Photo by Bonnie Obremski Caption: On the left are Brian O'Connell, director of Northfield's Community Development Department (foreground) and Joel Walinski, Northfield's interim city administrator. At center is Edith Nelson, Greenvale Township clerk. On the right are Richard Moore, Greenvale Township supervisor chairman and Bernard Budin, township supervisor. Not shown on the far right is supervisor Robert Winter.


Photo by Bonnie Obremski Caption: Richard Moore, Greenvale Township supervisor chairman signs an annexation agreement with Northfield on Tuesday night at the Township Hall.


Filed under Business, City Government, Economic development

Is it ‘fair’ to only pay for the NY Times?

The Associated Press article “NY Times Editor Hints At Return Of Online Access Fees” is attracting lively discussion on the Huffington Post Web site. Cynthia Typaldos, founder of the soon-to-be-launched Kachingle, recently posted the following comment. Kachingle is a company that will allow the public to easily bestow micro-payment donations contributions to their favorite Web sites.

“I fully understand your desire to pay something for the NYTimes. But what about the HuffPost? You are here too…are you getting some value from this news site? And what about the other sites/blogs that you read/use?

My point is that it might not be ‘fair’ to pay only for the NYTimes, but not for anything else that you actively use and value.”

What would the people of Northfield pay for, how much would they pay, and why? That’s one of the questions I’m trying to figure out and I’m wondering if my latest story is drawing any closer to a product citizens would value.


Filed under Business, Citizen Participation, Poll, Project discussion

MinnPost blog critic asks “What’s the best platform for bloggers?”


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Tooting my horn here: Justin Piehowski, 30, blog critic for and winner of five Regional Emmy Awards for his work as a Web Manager at KSTP-TV, asked bloggers some questions about their experiences launching blogs. Piehowski mentioned my RepJ blog and See what he wrote below in quotes:

“Bonnie Obremski uses WordPress on her new Representative Journalism Project blog. She was exposed to it while contributing to the community news site Locally Grown Northfield.”

She said she really likes the attractive templates on WordPress and has already recommended it to a family member. However, she gets very frustrated with trying to embed .html code of videos and slideshows from other sites onto her WordPress blog. The process is not smooth, she said.”

OK so not earth-shattering information coming from me there. But in case you’re interested in seeing the whole interview, which Justin and I did via e-mail (we’re facebook AND Twitter friends now!), read on.

Continue reading


Filed under Anecdotes, Business, Citizen Participation, LocallyGrownNorthfield, Project discussion, Project progress

Get yer summer intern! A RepJ feature story


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Filed under Business, Citizen Participation, Economic development, Youth

Could locals score more college interns as large corporations nationwide cut programs?


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A Wall Street Journal blogger wrote last week about why you should consider getting yourself a summer intern.

“Many students who might have sought internships with large companies will be more open to working for small and mid-sized companies, says Tom Kozicki, executive director of the MBA Career Center at the University of California in Irvine.”

(On another note, a different Wall Street blogger pointed out that some parents are so worried about their child getting a decent job, they’re paying companies thousands of dollars to employ them as interns.)

This week, I’m finding out what Saint Olaf and Carleton college career center workers have to say about internships. In addition, I’m talking to city professionals who are teaming with interns in order to help develop their business or organization, while offering job experience to a young person.

Interns: Could small businesses need them more than ever in these tough times, even as larger companies are turning them away?

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Filed under Business

Surveys in for Vet Clinic and Just Food

Two more sources of into for a business story I’m working on.

Cannon Valley Vet Clinic, Boarding & Retail Store

1200 South Hwy 3 – Northfield

We are a member of the Chamber of Commerce. We have been a member for several years and I believe that the Chamber does a lot to help promote businesses in our community as well as helping with other civic events.

I believe that other members of the Northfield community whether it being other businesses or organizations can help promote any small business by WOM testimonials. WOM (word of mouth) recommendations can be the best assest any business has.

I see a lot of people becoming more aware of what they are purchasing for their pets due to their internet searches. With the recent scares in the pet food industry people are watching where the products are coming from and what ingredients they have. That’s why we are focusing on finding Made in USA products and also limited ingredient products so we can provide the pet parents the best possible options.

I am a firm believer that WOM and networking are the best ways to promote your business and there isn’t a lot of money tied into it so small businesses can benefit without going broke!

Leah Erickson, CVT

Cannon Valley Vet Boarding & Retail Store

1200 South Hwy 3

Northfield, MN 55057


“Name and title: Alex Beeby, Operations Manager
Name and Location of Business: Just Food Co-op, 516 Water St. S.
Contact Info: 507-650-0106,

Business-related organizations:

Aside from the regional and national co-op organizations, we aren’t members, per se, of any local business organizations. We attend some NDDC forums. We were members of the Chamber of Commerce until this year. I am in regular informal communication with some other downtown businesses to keep tabs on local issues as well.

Why we joined and level of satisfaction:

We attend NDDC forums, because they are a convenient way for us to stay in touch with the local business community and related issues.

We left the chamber for a couple of reasons. First, we did not feel that we were getting enough benefit for the money we were investing. Basically, we were able to take Chamber Dollars, which, themselves are less than convenient. We still had to pay additional money to participate in Chamber functions/events. We did not feel like the Chamber adequately responded to our suggestions. On top of all of this, the national and state Chamber associations are/have been politically involved in a way that runs so contrary to our mission that we do not feel comfortable representing ourselves as members.

How can orgs or other help?

Organizations can provide a forum for businesses to get together, cooperate, and pool resources. The key here is making sure these sessions aren’t just a waste of time. For example, a local salary/pay survey would be helpful in helping to get a sense of what appropriate pay levels are. Another example would be a conversation about joint advertising possibilities or joint training opportunities.

National economic situation and technology impacts?

We have definitely experienced a downturn that corresponds to the national economic situation. This downturn and unpredictability have led us to adjust our budget quarterly and managing our labor and inventory much more actively.

The web is definitely a part of keeping our customers informed, and exhibits potential for marketing.

What promotion methods are most effective?

Word of mouth reigns supreme, especially in this town. That said, we are seeing a lot of success with our classes and events as well.

Other helpful info:

Again, as we look at our labor, a local salary/pay survey would help us quite a bit. We need to do a better job of making sure we use our time effectively and actually accomplish worthwhile things — instead of just talk about it.”

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Filed under Business