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More Grim PR for MPR

Plus landlords, bad cops, and a good newspaper with a job opening in today's Flyover.

Bri Weldon vis Flickr

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

MPR Kills Investigative Journalism Division

With increasing frequency, we’ve been asking variations of this question over the past few years: What the fuck is going on at Minnesota Public Radio? One month after Mary Lucia’s seemingly acrimonious exit from 89.3 the Current, we got word Thursday that parent company American Public Media is killing APM Reports, its award-winning arm responsible for longform investigative journalism like the In the Dark podcast. “This decision has just been finalized and we are exercising a great deal of care in working out the details,” MPR CEO/billionaire’s daughter Jean Taylor wrote in a memo. “This along with the fact that it will involve decisions that affect our people is why we are not providing greater detail at this point.” Cool! APM Reports launched seven years ago, and its In the Dark podcast—which dug deep into the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling and wrongful imprisonment of Curtis Flowers—won two Peabody Awards. The Star Tribune couldn’t confirm how many members of the 18-person APM Reports staff will retain their jobs; we’re hearing at least two have been dismissed from the company. MPR/Current staffers, who’ve been fleeing in alarming numbers, can’t have much faith left in the current leadership.

Wanna Buy this Southern Minnesota Newspaper for Free?

Investing in a newspaper can be a risky venture–especially if it’s a weekly. (Just ask the Star Tribune!) But if you’re the right fit for the job, you could score the Lafayette-Nicollet Ledger for free. Since 1904, the weekly has covered news in the western Nicollet County region, a rural southern Minnesota farming area. For the past four years, Lee Zion has run the business alone, handling print layout and advertising while writing stories on births, deaths, city council meetings, high-school sports, farm news, and anything else relevant to the area. “Average day is I go to my desk, work until the work is done, which could be around midnight,” he tells Hannah Yang in this delightful MPR article. “Then the process repeats.” Relatable, my fellow journalist. The Ledger currently has about 500 readers, and Zion says the business is stable–even profitable! He’s planning on heading to Ukraine to help out any way he can, but before he goes, he’s vetting applications from people who are interested in keeping the historic newspaper going.

Tenants want Landlord to Fix the Goddamn Door

According to the renters at 3100 Bloomington Ave., they have had to put up with a lot of bullshit. Folks in the Powderhorn Park apartment complex say that multiple strangers have made their way into the building, leaving behind needles, feces, and trash. One resident reported an assault. Others say they have gray water in their space. Now they are taking their complaints to the next level, working with renters’ rights group Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia, and refusing to pay rent until these safety and health issues are fixed. Tenants say the property owner, real estate investor Matthew Brunnette, hasn’t gotten in touch with them, though his lawyers have released a statement to Bring Me The News. Interestingly, Unidxs Por Justicia actually formed when the building’s previous landlord/owner, Stephen Frenz, was taken to court over the building’s living conditions. Frenz eventually lost his rental license and went to jail after committing perjury during the trial.

Another Day, Another $1.25M Payout

There are only so many pithy, semi-original ways to say that cops suck, so let’s stick to the facts today. Minneapolis City Council signed off on two more settlements, totaling about $1.25 million, with victims who suffered police abuse in the days following George Floyd’s murder. Linda Tirado, a journalist covering the May 2020 unrest, said an MPD cop shot her in the face with a 40mm impact round, rupturing her left eye and causing a brain injury. She immediately lost sight in that eye, ending her career as a photojournalist. She’s settling for $600,000, Tony Webster reports at the Minnesota Reformer. Virgil Lee Jackson Jr., who was with Jaleel Stallings when a SWAT team opened fire on him, settled for $645,000, Deena Winter reports, also at the Reformer. Jackson was beaten for two minutes and tased for the crime of being on Lake St. at night.