In an effort to further connect with readers and provide more accessibility to its publication, the Fillmore County (Minn.) Journal has begun placing newspaper racks featuring pictures of local residents on them in various communities it covers.
So far, the Journal has placed eight brand new vinyl photo wrapped racks in the towns of Preston, Lanesboro, Fountain, Chatfield, Rushford, Harmony, Wykoff and Spring Valley. Each rack has three full color photos on display and can hold about 100 copies.
While the free newspaper is already distributed to every household in the county, publisher Jason Sethre said people regularly drive upwards of 50 miles to pick up additional copies at the Journal’s office in Preston. The paper currently maintains a total distribution of 13,500.
“We figured this was a great way to not only make our product more readily available but also turn members of the community into local celebrities,” Sethre said. “After all, they are the reason our newspaper exists.”
To identify what images would be displayed on the racks, Sethre and his staff communicated with local Chamber of Commerce organizations, city halls and community leaders. The paper laid out two important requirements for all potential photos: they had to include local people, and they needed to portray the assets of the community.
“We explained what we wanted to accomplish and asked them for their input. Everyone loved the idea,” Sethre said. “In most cases, we were told who specifically should be recognized on the racks. The ideas were flowing and these boxes could only come to life with the vested interest of the communities we serve.”
In Preston, the rack displays images of the town’s firefighters, a young boy fishing along the Root River and a widow being presented a flag by the National Honor Guard at the Southeast Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery. Meanwhile, in the town of Harmony, the rack features pictures of the Miss Harmony pageant winner, a little girl dressed in red, white and blue, and members of the fire department in the annual July 4th celebration.
The most challenging aspect of the entire process, Sethre said, was gathering photos that best represented the people they had in mind. Although the newsroom managed to find many images in the paper’s archives, there were some instances where they had to stage a photo shoot to obtain the right shot.
According to Sethre, the paper invested $400 in each rack and will maintain the current images on them for a number of years.
“The feedback has been tremendously positive and those represented on the outdoor displays have thanked us at the newspaper,” Sethre said. “Each person showcases how fortunate we are to live in this area among great people and surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty.”