by Chris Rogers, editor, Winona Post
Eight years ago, almost to the day, I was sitting in Fran Edstrom’s office, fielding questions from her and Sarah Squires about whether I was the right pick for the job of reporter. I tried to not let my nerves show. I knew almost nothing about Winona then, except the paper was hiring and the town was surrounded by green on the map. That was good enough for me.
The nature of this work meant I spent much of my days talking to people, listening, asking questions, and searching for what my readers would want to know. Over the past eight years, I’ve talked to thousands of Winonans, Lewistonites, Fountain City residents, Arcadians, and more. This job has given me a passport to explore topics from bowfishing to domestic violence prevention, from soil science to blood sausage. Quickly I discovered that I hadn’t just landed in any old Midwestern town. I had been incredibly lucky to land here, in Winona, a town with a rich history as the ancestral homeland of the Dakota people and a hub of early Minnesota, a town where education matters, a town where American manufacturing is flourishing, a town that makes things, a town full of artists. There wasn’t just some green on the map; I had moved to the heart of the Driftless Region and the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. It is a place full of farmers and boaters, kind-hearted people and families. We come from different places, faiths, and backgrounds, and we certainly don’t agree on politics, but talking with so many of you has taught me a million intriguing details and one central truth: I am so fortunate be part of this community.
This marks the first issue of the Winona Post with myself as editor. I am humbled by the footsteps I am walking in and by the trust this community puts in this paper. I will be writing less than I used to in the weeks ahead as we hire a new reporter, but I’ll still be guiding and supporting our reporters and overseeing all of our content. Not so long ago, my predecessor and mentor made this same transition. Now it’s my job to lead.
I’m moving to the editor’s desk at a challenging time for our community and for local news. The hospital-filling COVID surge we’ve been warned about is upon the Midwest, and we are all struggling with isolation more than eight months into this pandemic. Across the country, many local news outlets have shrunk or even closed. Thanks to our dedicated staff; our independent, local publisher; and the support of local businesses and readers, the Winona Post has remained strong. Ultimately, that is because Winona as a community is strong. Together, we can get through this winter.
In my tenure, the Winona Post will remain committed to transparency and freedom of information. Knowledge is power, and at its core, our newspaper is about bringing knowledge to the people. Our newspaper is a place where facts matter, where accuracy, fairness, and ethical journalism are upheld. We strive to serve — not people of one persuasion or another — but the entire community. Our reporters will keep asking questions and documenting what’s happening in this community of ours, the big decisions, the challenges and accomplishments, and the people who call it home.
So stay with us on this journey. Support the local businesses that make our reporting possible, now more than ever. And join the conversation. Tell us what you liked, what you didn’t, what stories you want to see, and what information you need. Send our reporters tips. Announce your club’s next event. Make your voice heard on our opinion page. Most importantly, take care of each other.