REGIONAL— The nation’s best-known and most respected publication on the media has turned its spotlight on the Timberjay this week, with a feature story focusing on the investigative reporting …
REGIONAL— The nation’s best-known and most respected publication on the media has turned its spotlight on the Timberjay this week, with a feature story focusing on the investigative reporting efforts of publisher Marshall Helmberger.
The Columbia Journalism Review’s story, “The Timberjay takes on the nation’s most heated mining battle,” hit the publication’s website on Wednesday this week. See story here, https://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/timberjay-helmberger-trump-stauber-mining.php
Much of the story focuses on the region’s copper-nickel mining debate, particularly over Twin Metals, which has garnered national headlines over the past year or so. “But no publication has covered it with the depth or tenacity of The Timberjay,” writes Stephanie Pearson, who wrote the story for the Review. “While national publications tend to flare emotions by focusing on the “us v. them mentality” of the Iron Range, Helmberger drills down on the facts of the increasingly unethical federal process and the economic and environmental realities of what the new mine may bring.”
The story also highlights the Timberjay’s longstanding battle with corporate behemoth Johnson Controls, and the paper’s legal battle that went all the way to the state’s Supreme Court. When the court ruled, on a technicality, for Johnson Controls, the Minnesota Legislature unanimously approved a change in the law, known as the Timberjay bill, that nullified the court’s ruling and made all public-sector contracts accessible to the public.
While the debate over copper-nickel mining is playing out in the courts, Pearson writes that the the Timberjay is “working on securing a tour of the new regional schools built by Johnson Controls, which iare rumored to have structural problems, including doors that won’t open, cracking foundations, and roof issues.”
Pearson said Helmberger downplays his sleuthing. “I spend more time writing up high school sports than I do investigative pieces,” Pearson quotes the publisher. “That stuff that wins awards, most of our readers don’t really care about it.” At its heart, says Helmberger, The Timberjay is “just a really solid community newspaper.” But the paper’s track record defies Helmberger’s modesty, and that’s good news, because the mining controversy isn’t going anywhere.
In researching the story, Pearson reached out to people on both sides of the copper-nickel mining question, including Steve Piragis, of Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely, and St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina. While the two are at polar opposite sides on whether a new mine will help or hamper Ely’s future, they both agree on the paper’s merits.
“Marshall is one of the best reporters in Minnesota,” said Piragis. “His editorials are extremely well-written and influential, but he manages to remain objective and keep his personal views out of his reporting.”
Rukavina, a longtime subscriber, agreed. “I think Marshall has one of the finest weekly newspapers in Minnesota. We aren’t always on the same page when it comes to some environmental issues, however, I will give credit where it’s due. Marshall does his research and for a small weekly, he puts out a damn good paper, even when he’s wrong.”
The Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is “to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism. It is the most respected voice on press criticism, and it shapes the ideas that make media leaders and journalists smarter about their work. Through its fast-turn analysis and deep reporting, CJR is an essential venue not just for journalists, but also for the thousands of professionals in communications, technology, academia, and other fields reliant on solid media industry knowledge.”
The publication is based at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.