Beyond the Headlines Superior

Communicating in a News Desert

News Desert – “a community . . . with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level.” (Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, UNC School of Journalism)

Research tells us that local media often help bring communities together and strengthen them. It also shows that communities that have lost their local news sources experience diminished civic engagement.

The need for quality and timely coverage -- especially in emergency situations and for gaining insight into issues that face the community -- is critical. The majority of the Twin Ports media focus on the more populous Duluth, MN audience. With few news sources devoted to Superior and Douglas County in Wisconsin, and a general decline in small-town dailies and weeklies, the community is considered a “news desert” that can result in incomplete or untimely information.

A local steering committee made up of community members and Twin Ports media are planning a Beyond the Headlines project that will ask Superior residents to consider how they gain the knowledge they need to navigate local issues.


What's Happening

What do you think? Take the survey!

Jan 15, 2019
2:00 pm

Online Survey: How do YOU stay connected?

Take the survey! If you live or work in Douglas County, we want to hear from you! Help Beyond the Headlines understand your communication wants and needs when it comes to staying on top of your civic and community life. Click REGISTER to be taken to the survey!

Communicating in a News Desert:Superior Public Forum

Mar 27, 2019
6:30 pm

Barker's Island Inn Resort & Conference Center
300 Marina Dr
Superior, WI

More details and speakers to come!

Join us at a  community forum to explore the impact of the changing landscape of news media on Superior and Douglas County. Experts in issues of news deserts and their impacts on local economy, community engagement and democracy, as well as the viability of local news will give us the big picture. This will be followed by a discussion of the results of community focus groups and surveys about how people who live and/or work in Douglas County find out what they need to know to be informed in their civic and community life.

Jesse Holcomb

Asssistant Professor of Journalism and Communication
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

Jesse Holcomb's current work focuses on trust, media and democracy (in collaboration with the Knight Foundation), nonprofit journalism (with the Institute for Nonprofit News), and local news ecosystems (with Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media). 

Previously, Holcomb was associate director of research at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. For 10 years at the Center, he helped design and execute a broad research agenda around journalism, technology and civic life.


Erinn Whitaker

Senior Researcher
Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Erinn Whitaker, a former senior analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and US State Department, is a senior researcher at the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A policy analyst with nearly 15 years of experience, she now specializes in how US “news deserts” are eroding key democratic institutions. This topic builds on Whitaker’s previous expertise in Russian domestic politics, where she scrutinized areas such as the Kremlin-controlled media environment.


Andy Hall

Executive Director and Co-Founder
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Andy Hall, a co-founder of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and a former Investigative Reporters and Editors board member, won dozens of awards for his reporting in 26 years at the Wisconsin State Journal and The Arizona Republic. Since the Center’s launch in 2009, he has overseen the Center’s journalistic and financial operations. Hall began his career in 1982 as a copyboy at The New York Times.


Lewis A. Friedland

School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UW-Madison

Lewis A. Friedland is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is affiliated with the Departments of Sociology and Educational Psychology and directs the Center for Communication and Democracy. He conducts research on the public sphere and civil society, changing communication ecologies, and networks.


Janet Bewley

25th District

State Senator Janet Bewley Represents Wisconsin’s 25th Senate District. Bewley was re-elected to the Senate in the fall of 2018 and served two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Prior to her first election in the fall of 2010, she served on the Ashland City Council for two years.  Born in 1951 in Cleveland, Bewley was the first member of her family to graduate from college.  After a few years working in the ocean freight business, she went on to graduate school and earned a Master's in Academic Administration from the University of Maine in 1977.  And then she moved to Northern Wisconsin and found her home.


Reaching Out

Nov 26, 2018
5:00 pm

Superior, WI

How do you find out what you need to know to make decisions about issues that face your community? Beyond the Headlines asked focus groups made of people who live or work in Douglas County to share the resources they access for the information they need and why they turn to them. We also asked what kinds of information people seek, and how they would like to receive it. 

What connects you to your community? Take the online survey to tell us what you think are the best ways to share important information that affects you.

All Event Locations

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Events List

Jan 15

What do you think? Take the survey!

Mar 27

Communicating in a News Desert:Superior Public Forum

Nov 26

Reaching Out


What is Beyond the Headlines?

“Beyond the Headlines” brings Wisconsinites together for discussions that explore journalism’s crucial role in enabling productive citizen engagement in American democracy.


Local Partners

Thanks to our local steering committee members!

Ron Brochu, Business North
Mark Casper, Keyport Liquor
Doug Dalager, Explore Superior
Paul Damberg, Wisconsin Public Radio (Chair)
Tylor Elm, Superior City Council
Charlie Glazman, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Tom Hansen, UW-Superior
Sue Heskin, Superior Public Library
David Jensch, KBJR
Kathleen Laakso, UW-Superior
Janice Meyer, UW-Superior
Shelly Nelson, Superior Telegram
Brent Notbohm, UW-Superior
Jim Paine, City of Superior
Taylor Pedersen, Superior Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Thompson, National Bank of Commerce

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.