Mike Knaak

Assistant Managing Editor/Digital, St. Cloud Times

St. Cloud, MN

[MN-E 0301]

These things happen fairly regularly – that you write a story and something changes and people react to it.

I did quite a bit of coverage, in the 70s and early 80s, on the effort to build and the actual building of a high-voltage power line through Western Minnesota. And the story was widely covered by lots of media. We were perhaps the most thorough and most consistent journalists on that story, and that story still shapes people’s lives.

We’re seeing again now with the Cap-X project that people are concerned about the routing and health issues of power lines. That story, because it was such a big deal, and [had] so much impact on so many people, it made me realize that what we do is important. Because people take action based on our reporting. And [they] shape some of their actions based on our reporting and really care about what we tell them. They depend on what we tell them.

You know, even small things like sports scores – you see how young people read the sports pages [about] their high school friends and high school teams, and it’s important to them.

So there are a number of moments that make me think about yeah – what we do matters. And some of those really serious stories like power lines and crime stories – stories about government activity. What we do sometimes shapes how people react and how they vote. People are paying attention to what you’re doing. It’s not just sort of an “exercise.”