When I grew up on our family farm near Comfrey in southern Minnesota, the Minneapolis Tribune arrived in our mailbox each day. It was the Taylor family’s window on the larger world.
Today that newspaper is the Star Tribune. As of last week, I’m its owner.
Much has changed since my days on the farm in the 1940s and ’50s. But this news organization is still Minnesota’s window on the larger world. It’s still the best, most trusted source of the information Minnesotans need to participate in governing their communities, state and nation.
I would not have purchased the Star Tribune if I thought otherwise. My goal is to be a good steward of this vital Minnesota asset and help it serve this state better still.
I decided to buy the Star Tribune half with my head, half with my heart. My head says that while the newspaper business is changing and challenging, it’s still a good investment.
Business challenges are stimulating to me. But I don’t consider the Star Tribune a turnaround project. Since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, it has stabilized under strong leadership. I’m pleased that Mike Klingensmith, publisher since 2010, will continue in that role. I have a lot of confidence in him and his team.
My heart belongs to Minnesota — and Minnesota deserves a news organization of the caliber of the Star Tribune.
I’m a lifelong Minnesotan. My family came to this state from Iowa in the 1930s. Growing up on a farm taught me many things, including concern for the natural environment and a sense that this is one state, not an urban one and a rural one.
I’m a product of public education, and want it strengthened. That was my focus as a state senator for 10 years, and why I’ve been a big booster of my alma mater, Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Being a senator deepened my awareness of my community in and around Mankato. I saw more clearly its diversity and the challenges many people face. I saw the struggles of many working families with young children. It’s one of the reasons Taylor Corp. was among the first major employers to put a child-care center on its corporate campus.
I’m drawn to things that can unite all Minnesotans. It’s why I bought the NBA Timberwolves in 1995 and the WNBA Lynx in 1999. It’s a big part of my decision to buy the Star Tribune.
Not until I ran for the Senate in 1980 did I decide which party to join. I was the Senate’s Republican leader for a time. But to this day, I’m not a strong partisan.
I don’t think the Star Tribune should be, either.
It shouldn’t be one of the things that divide this state into uncompromising political camps. There’s too much of that already. I see the Star Tribune as a force for bringing Minnesotans together.
It does that, first and foremost, with coverage of news and events that’s timely, accurate and thorough. It has a special duty to hold the public sector to account. Minnesotans have long turned to the Star Tribune as the most authoritative source of the information they need to be good citizens. I aim to keep that trust.
The Star Tribune also ought to be a rich source of ideas about improving people’s lives. In columns that are clearly distinguished from news and on the Opinion Exchange pages, readers should find opinions from a variety of sources and perspectives.
In the editorial corner, promising new ideas and strategies for solving problems should get a boost. Editorials shouldn’t be bashful about taking on tough issues. I don’t expect to agree with all of them. But I’ll applaud when editorials call attention to creative new approaches and opportunities for bipartisan compromise.
I believe in assigning responsibility to good people and letting them do their jobs. That’s how Taylor Corp. functions with all of its more than 80 subsidiaries. It’s how I want to operate at the Star Tribune.
But I also believe in the power of relationships. That was my dad’s key to success as a Hubbard Milling salesman. It’s how I won my Senate elections — knocking on doors, making friends and persuading my new friends to introduce me to others. It’s why our core values at Taylor Corp. emphasize respect for every employee and customer and a sense of mutual responsibility.
I’ll work with the people who produce the Star Tribune to create relationships that allow for a constructive exchange of ideas.
I’m mindful of the value of another key relationship — yours with us. Thank you for caring about what we do, and for speaking up when you see ways for us to improve.
Under different names and owners, and both online and in print, this news organization has been a part of Minnesotans’ lives for 147 years. At times it has made you laugh and cry, cheer and curse. It has been at its best when it made you think.
Together, my wife and I have 26 grandchildren. Most of them live in Minnesota. I want to keep the Star Tribune strong, because if I do, the state your grandchildren and mine will inherit will be better for it.