Publisher Rick Bussler stands in front of the digital screen showcasing the front page of the Steele County Times at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum located at the State Fair. Staff photo by Michelle Leonard
For decades the Minnesota Newspaper Museum has showcased the history of the newspaper industry at the great Minnesota get together—the State Fair.
The museum is operated by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation of which I serve on the organization’s board of directors.
I always thought something was missing from the museum. While I certainly understand the purpose of any museum is to display history, I also believe we need to make it relevant to today and meet readers where they’re currently at. And, as most of us know, that often involves something digital.
So, this year I convinced the Foundation to offer a large digital screen featuring current front pages of Minnesota newspapers. The Steele County Times and our sister newspaper, Dodge County Independent, are two of about 20 newspapers shown on a continuous loop throughout the day for fairgoers. The only other newspaper featured from southern Minnesota is the Post Bulletin of Rochester.
The screen is hung on the wall above the Editor’s Office in the Museum. It was fun to see the reaction of fairgoers after working a weekend shift in the museum.
The concept is tailored after the Newseum, which features front pages from around the country daily on its website. Of course, most of the newspapers shown on Newseum are large daily newspapers. It’s a great way to see what’s making headlines around the world. For example, on Monday many newspapers featured the horrible weekend tragedy out of Florida in which a racist shooter killed three Black people.
It always amazes me how every newspaper has a different look. Some are better than others, but they’re all unique. It’s fun to scroll through to see the various types of layout and design being utilized by newspapers as a way to entice readers to pick up the paper and well, read it. And yes, there are still many newspapers churning out news on a daily and weekly basis.
The Museum is also a great reminder of our country’s first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
In fact, we give out free First Amendment posters to fairgoers. They have become widely popular in recent years.
If you get out to the State Fair, be sure to check out the Newspaper Museum and see your local newspaper featured on the big screen. It’s located just outside the 4-H Building.
Newspapers have a rich history in Minnesota. It’s great to be a part of such a wonderful legacy.
I also love to go in hot pursuit of providing a snapshot of journalism in motion relevant to today.