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 by media researchers as a “news desert” that can result in incomplete or untimely information.

A local steering committee made up of community members and Twin Ports media ask Superior residents to consider how they gain the knowledge they need to navigate local issues.


What's Happening

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.

Greg Grell

Moderator; Producer
WDSE/WRPT Public Television

Greg Grell is the producer of Almanac North on WDSE WRPT Public TV, a weekly news discussion program now in its 27th season on the air.  Grell is also the host/producer of Minnesota Legislative Report, the region’s longest-running television program featuring live interviews with lawmakers during the Minnesota legislative session. 


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.


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.


Kevin Jacobsen

News Director
KBJR 6 & CBS 3 Duluth

Kevin Jacobsen, an Emmy-Award winning journalist, is the news director for KBJR 6 & CBS 3.

Jacobsen arrived in Duluth in November 2008. He anchored the news on CBS 3 (then KDLH) until moving over to anchor the KBJR 6 News at 6 and 10. In June 2015 he stepped behind the scenes as assistant news director. He was promoted to news director in August 2017. 


Danielle Kaeding

Reporter, Superior Bureau
Wisconsin Public Radio

Danielle Kaeding is a reporter at the Superior Bureau of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Prior to that, Kaeding served as the station manager of WRNC-LPFM (97.7) at Northland College in Ashland. Kaeding studied mass communications at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She has written and reported stories for print and broadcast media, including National Public Radio, National Native News, Aspen Daily News, Business North, Ashland Daily Press, Superior Telegram and KQDS-TV.


Jim Paine

City of Superior

Jim Paine was born and raised in Superior, WI. After graduating from Superior High School in 1999, Paine enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served as an infantryman.

After completing his military service, Paine returned home and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UW-Superior and later his Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership from UMD.


Katie Rohman

Regional Editor
Duluth Media Group

Katie Rohman is the regional editor at Duluth Media Group. She oversees the Superior Telegram as well as two papers in Carlton and Lake counties in Minnesota. Prior to arriving in the Twin Ports in 2017, she worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for small weeklies and dailies in Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan and North Dakota. Rohman graduated with a mass communications degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead. 


Bruce Thompson

Community Bank President
National Bank of Commerce

Bruce Thompson is Community Bank President, with 36 years of experience, at National Bank of Commerce in Superior. He earned a BBA from the University of MN-Duluth, a UW-Madison/Central States Conference of Bankers Association Graduate School of Banking Degree, and an Executive Program Certificate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


What do you think? Take the survey!

Jan 15, 2019
2:00 pm

Online Survey: How do YOU stay connected?

Thank you for taking the survey! Come to the March 27 Community Forum to hear the results!

We asked those who live or work in Douglas County, to help Beyond the Headlines understand communication wants and needs when it comes to staying on top of civic and community life.

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

Mar 27

Communicating in a News Desert:Superior Public Forum

Jan 15

What do you think? Take the survey!

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
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
Jim Paine, City of Superior
Taylor Pedersen, Superior Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Thompson, National Bank of Commerce
Barkers Island Inn

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