“Critical” time for The Wedge newspaper

Bleeding money, the future of the 40-year-old newspaper is in question

THE WEDGE — A revenue crisis at The Wedge has put into question the future of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood’s free monthly newspaper, published since 1969.

Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) staff member Caroline Griepentrog said Wednesday the neighborhood group was drawing down a limited pool of unrestricted funds to cover a shortfall in advertising revenues at The Wedge. A discussion with newspaper staff members at LHENA’s monthly board meeting revealed The Wedge was bringing in only about $700 a month ad sales, but that monthly expenses for the paper were closer to $2,000.

“It is a critical situation,” Griepentrog said.

She said LHENA had only about $5,000 in unrestricted funds not already dedicated to other neighborhood projects and was using that money to temporarily backfill the revenue shortfall. Board members and newspaper staff discussed strategies for shoring up the newspaper’s finances, including charging for mail subscriptions or neighborhood association memberships.

Newspaper staff members present at the Wednesday meeting included editor Bruce Cochran and designer Kelly Newcomer, who has also taken on advertising representative duties to help drum up sales, joining longtime advertising representative Susan Hagler. The paper’s current income from ads is just enough to cover Cochran and Newcomer’s combined monthly salaries, but little else.

Cochran said the newspaper faced other challenges, including difficulty accessing neighborhood apartment buildings for distribution and a general shift away from print media in favor of online news sources. Newcomer said she’d recently started a Twitter account for the paper, @wedgenewsmpls, to try and draw in readers.

The state of the newspaper is likely to be a topic for the April 17 LHENA annual meeting. LHENA board members also discussed getting the neighborhood’s attention with a front-page news story in The Wedge.