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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

“All the news?” Never!

Chuck Michener (l) and Kurt Bullert (r) were inaugurated with newly released “The Alley” T-Shirts and to the Midtown Phillips Festival July 25th by inveterate Neighborhood activist Joseph Spangler at Stewart Park. Photo Credit: Harvey Winje

Chuck Michener (l) and Kurt Bullert (r) were inaugurated with newly released “The Alley” T-Shirts and to the Midtown Phillips Festival July 25th by inveterate Neighborhood activist Joseph Spangler at Stewart Park. Photo Credit: Harvey Winje

BY HARVEY WINJE, Senior Volunteer Editor and Outreach Coordinator

The Alley Newspaper received an e-mail with these questions from a reader:

“Does The Alley Newspaper fact check submitted articles?”

“Does The Alley Newspaper do the ”˜malicious bidding”' for some neighborhood leaders?”

These important questions reminded us that we don”'t take space often enough to explain how we serve our mission to “inform and engage”.

This month, we are taking time to describe how the content within each Alley Newspaper is determined with the hope of giving a voice to all members of the community. To set the context, we”'ll start at the beginning in 1976.

When and how did The Alley Newspaper decide what news to publish?

40 years ago, two people were talking about the benefits of people having more in-depth conversations about community affairs. They noted every day encounters and community meetings especially did not provide enough time for substantial conversation. One of them had seen a magazine in which the content was a dialogue between writers; in fact, that was its name.

From that conversation, The Alley Newspaper was founded to be another means by which neighbors could converse with one another in addition to across backyard fences, at the store, and by telephone.

To accomplish that goal, The Alley invites community residents, employees, businesses, organizations or students within the community, to have their announcements, opinions, and organizing efforts included in the newspaper.

Question: Does The Alley fact check articles when they are submitted?

Yes, articles are vetted for outright discrepancies, lies, defamation, and blatant inaccuracies. No, if the submission is an opinion. In this case, we depend more on the process of dialogue over time to correct, counter, or compromise. Submissions to The Alley intended to be published are evaluated, however, as follows:

First, is its authorship from within the Community?

Second, is it fair and not demeaning of another Community member?

Third, is it in the best interest of the Community regardless of being only one viewpoint on an issue of varied opinions?

Fourth, what is its priority alongside of other material for a particular issue when space is limited by financial constraints?

Fifth, if necessary to limit its size, can that be done without detracting from its message and intent?

Once those decisions are made and choices published, it may appear that The Alley is taking a partisan position because of publishing a certain point of view. Admittedly, The Alley tends to favor the Community”'s interests above blatant outside interests or specific, local self-interests. But the views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of The Alley Newspaper, its Board, or advertisers. The Alley intends to always be available to opposing opinions.

In final evaluation and selection of material to be published, The Alley does not pretend to be objective. The Alley does not agree that journalism can be objective. Choices are always being made by any newspaper and there are always stories that escape consideration.

Question Does The Alley print all of the news?

The Alley never prints all of the news. There are so many stories to share within our Community that it will always be a challenge. The intrinsic value of Community stories being immeasurable compels us to keep striving to be able to tell more of them.

No newspaper, not even The New York Times that declares its motto on every front page– “All the news that”'s fit to print””” can be totally objective. Within the 25-30 pages of the NY Times and a Sunday edition of 3+ pounds, some articles are chosen for the front page, some for the last page, and large amounts are not printed. Those are not “objective,” decisions and the result does not include “all the news that”'s fit to print.”

The Alley never prints “all the news that”'s fit to print.” It does encourage neighbors to tell their own stories which are the richest of news. This is your Invitation: Tell us your story and/or opinion.

Question: Does The Alley do the bidding of some individuals or organizations?

Alley Communications, the parent corporation of The Alley Newspaper, is a community-governed, 501 C-3 Minnesota nonprofit corporation that is an almost completely volunteer operation. As such, there are obligations to be available to the entire community. Yes, The Alley Newspaper, does do “bidding;” but for the entire community.

It is always important knowing authorship. That is why The Alley identifies articles with a byline beneath the headline, a title, or this statement “This Page is written, designed and paid by” when a section of the newspaper has been provided by an organization, politician, or anyone else; for example, A recent change is the purchasing and design of space by Community organizations to make their announcements and promote their programs, campaigns, and group opinions.

Thus, some announcements, half pages and full pages are currently produced by the Franklin Community Library, Friends of the Cemetery, Ventura Village, Phillips West, Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Improvement Association, East Phillips Improvement Coalition, and the BackYard Initiative. The cost is sometimes bartered and always discounted from usual advertising rates as The Alley”'s good faith contribution to Community affairs.

Additional Guidelines

The Alley intends to avoid the temptation to report on topics because they are sensational, newsworthy, include name-dropping quotations to appear as though in depth consideration has been done, or take interviewed quotations out of context to reinforce the writer”'s opinion.

For example, The Alley was interviewed by a StarTribune reporter for a story that ran Sunday, June 7th in which the reporter selectively chose a couple of quotes that mis-portrayed extensive information given to her about how Alley Communications is shaping its future. It would be easy for that reporter or readers to miss the nuances of Alley Communication”'s implementation of its mission to “inform and engage” because it is contrary to what journalism has become. Instead of following journalism”'s lead, Alley Communications has chosen to shape its work as an art, stimulus to democracy-building, and to be responsive to the Community”'s needs.

The Alley intends to avoid pandering of any kind that promotes itself or another organization or individual.

For example, decades ago but more poignant now, Twin Cities Business Monthly magazine free- lance writer, Ann Bauer, wrote, “Probably, no legitimate business could exist in Phillips without Honeywell.” This was an obviously erroneous fact since there were hundreds of various-sized legitimate businesses in Phillips at the time. It has been decades since Honeywell”'s international headquarters moved to New Jersey and hundreds of legitimate businesses are still here.

The entire TCBM article needed vetting for accuracy. The writer and magazine were doing the “bidding “of Honeywell Corporation as major media sources do often for interests outside of Phillips.

We need our own media presence to counter their misinformation and bias.

Having been founded 40 years ago to be another means by which neighbors could converse with one another, The Alley is now alongside newer means of communication. It embraces them for their many benefits while offering an added benefit of being “bound for future use” by neighbors, students and historians because they can see all past issues printed on book-quality paper and bound in hard-back volumes at the Franklin Community Library and the Hennepin County Central-Downtown Library.


In October we will gather people to focus conversation on just how to continue this mission while growing with new social media and keeping our strength of having print media available to everyone.

We will also begin plans for the 40th Anniversary.

Let us know if you are willing to meet and plan that future. Watch for further notice in the September issue.

In the meantime, remember The Alley is your Newspaper in which you may publish your opinion, poem, art work, announcement, or advertisement.

We also have tasks for volunteers to bring us into the next 40 years.

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), namesake of Phillips Community, said, “When the great newspapers don”'t say much, see what the little independent ones say.”

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