Community newspaper goes online only

The Bridge newspaper, created in 2005, will go online-only in July.

Monthly neighborhood newspaper The Bridge will stop publishing a print edition as it shifts its news and information services to the Internet. It was early 2009 when the paper was upgraded, changing page size and redesigning. But an article on the front page of MayâÄôs issue announced June to be the final print publication. Starting in June, community members that pick the paper up on doorsteps will have to log onto their computers to read The Bridge. The economic crisis hitting businesses nationwide and print newspapers in particular finally hit The Bridge. Many in the community said they will still read the news online, but journalism professors said the move will affect thousands in the community. The paper received support from its advertisements, the community and Triangle Park Creative , a graphic and design company, both in print and online. The Bridge had been suffering financially since early this year and it finally succumbed just months after its renovation. Executive Publisher Dan Nordley said a big drop in advertisement âÄúmade the move urgent.âÄù Though the matter saddens the community, Nordley said he is optimistic about the publication online. Also, he said it can provide better online news to the neighborhood than with printed paper. The Bridge was created in 2005 when long-standing websites Seward Profile and Southeast Angle merged. The Bridge Neighborhood newspaper is a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors that is made up of local community members. For the past three years, the printed newspaper had been serving 10 neighborhoods in southern Minneapolis, including the University of Minnesota. The Bridge is mailed and distributed in homes, business centers and public buildings throughout the 10 neighborhoods. It had a circulation of about 30,000.

Community reaction

Many in the community said they would still check out The Bridge online. However, many others expressed concern that not everyone has a computer at home and said some people will have to travel to libraries to find out about their neighborhoodsâÄô stories through The Bridge online. University of Minnesota journalism professor Kathleen Hansen is among the thousands in the community affected by the newspaperâÄôs switch to online. Hansen said it is disappointing that The Bridge is no longer around as a print newspaper. The newspaper provided its neighborhoods news stories that have a âÄúhyper-local focus,âÄù Hansen said. The professor said she admired the reporters of the paper, remembering their coverage of the I-35W bridge collapse. Communication junior Torey Hall used to âÄúgrabâÄù The Bridge and âÄúgo,âÄù he said. Hall said the loss of the paper had an impact on him just like any other reader.

The First Amendment and halting publishing

Jane Kirtley , Silha Professor of media, ethics and law at the University, said she is not familiar with the newspaper but expressed concerns about the loss. âÄúEverybody should be concerned about many newspapers that are going out of business,âÄù she said. With the expansion of computer technology, many now rely heavily on the Internet for finding news, with numerous newspapers closing or shifting to online. Many wonder if such an issue has an effect on societyâÄôs access to a free press that serves them. Experts said the First Amendment has nothing to do with vanishing papers. This is not enforced by the government but by economic turmoil, Hansen said. But Kirtley admitted âÄúthe public has lost one way of keeping an eye on the government.âÄù Still, Kirtley said itâÄôs fine to have online news reports. However, she emphasized online news information canâÄôt replace an actual newspaper. She raised questions about the accuracy of the information gathered online and said independent bloggers canâÄôt replace news organizations. âÄúNewspapers remain in the eyes and ears of the public,âÄù Kirtley said.