Nancy Barnes: Introducing 'Minnesota Voices'

  • Article by: Nancy Barnes
  • Star Tribune
  • March 6, 2010 - 8:12 PM

As the leading provider of news and information in Minnesota, the Star Tribune has scores of journalists who scour the state to bring you the freshest stories. We have distinctive voices and personalities, who don't hesitate to share their thoughts on everything from health care to the ever-amusing question of whether Brett Favre should retire.

But we are also fortunate to live in a state rich with interesting thinkers and personalities who contribute much to the life of Minnesota and the country, whether in entertainment, politics, business, literature or the arts. Many of them write regularly for the editorial pages of national newspapers, or for national websites like the Huffington Post.

We think our readers should hear what they have to say, too. The Star Tribune should be your home not just for news and entertainment, but also for provocative thought and debate about the most important issues of our times, and occasionally, an oasis for a great read.

This week, we are launching a new feature in the paper called Minnesota Voices. We've asked people who we think might have an important, provocative, insightful or just plain interesting take on the world to write on an occasional basis, so that we can share their expertise and perspectives with you.

Today, we introduce the columns of Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, author and motivational speaker, and Brian Atwood, dean of the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). They will write about once a month on a topic of their choosing.

We have also asked Gary Stern, former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, to join the roster of writers, along with radio personalities Jason Lewis and Tom Barnard. Invitations also have been extended to Eleanor Mondale and Peter Bell, among others. Over time, we hope to have a dozen or more personalities who write under this feature, with their work appearing in different parts of the paper, from business to Variety to this section.

Atwood's first column appears in this section, while George's graces the cover of our business section. Their columns today address vastly different topics, from aid to countries in crisis to the state of our health care system, or lack thereof. In reading their columns, however, it also struck me that they had a common message about the need for America to get in front of some of its deepest problems, rather than waiting for them to become so dire we can no longer ignore them. George calls on the state's leaders to take charge in leading the way to a transformation in health care. He points out that far too much of our health care is reactive in dealing with problems when they occur, rather than encouraging individuals to take responsibility for healthy living before these problems develop.

Atwood ponders the heartfelt sympathy that occurs in America in response to tragedies such as those that have beset Haiti and Chile in the last few months, but wonders why investing in the prevention of disasters, or simply hunger, in poor countries is so controversial.

Scott Gillespie, the editorial page editor, and I are happy to welcome their voices to the paper.

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