Top Five Columns

Jim Pumarlo wrote a weekly column as editor at the Red Wing (Minn.) Republican Eagle. His column was recognized in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest as a consistent winner in the category for “best explanation of news operations or ethics.” He received the Minnesota News Council’s first “Accountability Award” in 2000.

“How can you not win? Jim Pumarlo’s columns provide readers with information vital to understanding the policies, ethics, standards and content of this newspaper. It’s well-written, informative and enlightening – especially so for readers interested in the ‘behind the scenes’ thinking that editors do every day. It’s a good column. It might be something my newspaper ‘creates’ in the future.”
— Judge’s comments Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest, 2000-01 Best Explanation of Newspaper Operations or Newspaper Ethics, first place

“More papers should adopt this policy. You’re not afraid to admit an error in judgment – something that goes a long way toward building readers’ trust.”
— Judge’s comments Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest, 1997-98 Best Explanation of Newspaper Operations or Newspaper Ethics, first place

R-E falls short in stabbing case

A reader asked Wednesday in People’s Platform: “Why do some people’s stories make front-page news and then when other people’s side of the story comes out, it’s printed on the second or third page? Is there a reason for this or a bias as far as the paper goes?”

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This time, privacy outweighs right to know

Our front page Monday carried a report of a 7-week-old boy who was revived after suffering cardiac arrest. The “heroes” included foster parents John and Sarah Robinson of Red Wing along with Lt. Randy Smith who was first to arrive at the housel. Scott Jackson, Randy Olson and Doug Rogers also were among those who responded.

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Report on meth lab valuable to dialogue

Did the Republican Eagle overstep its bounds in reporting on the police raid of an apparent methamphetamine lab in Mazeppa last week?
A reader took the Feb. 2 report to task in People’s Platform last Friday. He commented, in part, “I thank you for making available to residents — especially the youth of Red Wing — this excellent investment opportunity. Who’d have thought that for just $150 and a little fertilizer off the farm, I could make $2,000 in just two hours work? Why would anyone want to raise cows? And we’re providing a needed service. After all, as the article stated, meth is the drug of choice.”

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 Who is Jim Pumarlo?

Community newspapers, at their best, are stewards of their communities. The news columns are a blend of stories that people like to read and stories they should read. The advertising columns promote and grow local commerce. And the editorial pages are a marketplace of ideas.

Jim Pumarlo understands that energized newspapers are at the foundation of energized communities. His message is straightforward: Community newspapers – whether delivering information in the print or on the Web – must focus on local news if they are to remain relevant to their readers and advertisers.

You’re welcome to reprint these columns with the appropriate tagline:

Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on community newsroom success strategies. He is author of “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town Newspapers,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage.” He can be reached at and welcomes comments and questions at