State papers endorse Yudof budget plan

Rebecca Teale

With one speech, President Mark Yudof’s plea to bring the University almost $300 million in state money will reach from the Boundary Waters to the Iowa border.
The Minnesota Newspaper Association, at their annual convention, broke new ground by unanimously supporting Yudof’s plans, University officials announced last week. The decision will likely lead to favorable editorials from the association’s more than 400 member newspapers, media and political experts predict.
It is the first time in its 131-year history the association passed a formal resolution to support a bill, said John Finnegan Sr., a past president of the association’s board of directors. The group endorsed Yudof’s $249 million capital and $41 million supplemental legislative requests.
The association paid particular attention to the new media initiative, which would funnel more than $20 million into building renovations, updated equipment and new faculty.
“A key component of the president’s five-part plan is to promote the Communication Studies Task Force’s recommendations to bring desperately needed resources,” the resolution stated. “The Minnesota Newspaper Association strongly endorses the president’s legislative initiative.”
The members of the association, who are writers and editors from Minnesota newspapers, stress using their editorial sections to promote the initiatives.
Political science professor Larry Jacobs said the endorsement by the association is a very important catalyst for the legislative plan. He calls the media a significant, but subtle asset to the University’s future.
“These people have the megaphone,” Jacobs said. “Does it guarantee the request will be approved? No. But it does greatly increase the probability.”
The first-ever resolution came at the urging of journalism professor Kathleen Hansen and College of Liberal Arts external relations representatives Mary Hicks and Eugenia Smith.
“Every legislator in this state lives in a community with a newspaper,” Hansen said. “And if the newspapers are saying this is an important thing, the legislators will get the message.”