Koenen encourages local residents to visit museum

Chad Koenen, MNA President

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

There’s a message to county residents who plan to attend this year’s Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. 

The message comes from Chad Koenen, co-owner of Henning Publications and co-publisher of the Citizen’s Advocate in Henning, New York Mills Dispatch and Frazee-Vergas Forum. He also is president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA).

Koenen urges county residents to visit the newspaper museum at this year’s Minnesota State Fair. The museum is located near the 4-H building on the northeast side of the fairgrounds, near Snelling Avenue.

“One of the really unique things at the state fair, aside from all of the crazy things you can find to eat on a stick, is the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation’s newspaper museum,” Koenen said. “The museum features a letterpress that can show guests how newspapers were printed some 100 years ago.”

Volunteers of the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation, which is a separate group from the Minnesota Newspaper Association, operate the press each day of the state fair and produces a newspaper called The Maynard News. Guests can see how the type is set for the old newspaper and even see the impact that newspapers have had on their communities through the years.

“Over the past eight years I have had the opportunity to serve on the Minnesota Newspaper Association Board of Directors,” Koenen said. “Due to some turnover on our board of directors over the past year I was elected to a second term as president of the association, which was a tremendous honor to be asked to do so.”

Koenen says the opportunity to serve on the MNA board of directors and as MNA president has given him the unique opportunity to visit with newspapers from across the state. He learns firsthand the continued impact that newspapers have on communities throughout Minnesota. 

Minnesota is home to one of the larger press associations in the country. 

“We currently have 270 member newspapers and assist our members with everything from training to being a voice at the state capitol and being a resource during a time of need,” Koenen said. “Our annual convention at the end of January each year is one of the bigger press conventions in the country. We bring in guest speakers from across the nation.” 

Koenen says the state newspaper association does a lot behind the scenes that even MNA members don’t always see on a day-to-day basis. 

“Over the past couple of years we have brought back a popular high school and college internship program that provides grants to help offset the cost of hiring an intern for the summer,” he said. “Our newspaper industry has quite a few older reporters and industry leaders so it is important to show what working at a newspaper is all about for the next generation of journalists.”

With the assistance of Bethel University, the Minnesota Newspaper Institute, which is the organization’s nonprofit arm that is focused on training, is also entering its second year of the Community Journalism University. 

“The program provides an in-depth training to people from across the state who would like to be journalists and work at newspapers,” Koenen says. “MNA received rave reviews about this program last year. We hope it will assist member newspapers from across the state to fill a shortage of reporters at newspapers big and small.”

Koenen says that serving on the Minnesota Newspaper Association Board of Directors has been a tremendous honor and he looks forward to his remaining 18 months on the board. 

“The opportunity has given me a chance to be a voice for newspapers big and small across the state as we continue to evolve as an industry,” he said. “One of the things I am most proud of is that I am the only current board member who is located north of Interstate 94. So, in many ways I feel as though I am not only a voice for Otter Tail County newspapers, but also for the entire northern one-third of the state.”