MinnPost editor defends giving Kersten a puff piece


This morning, MinnPost published the second installment of a softball doubleheader with conservative scold Katherine Kersten.

An ostensibly non-partisan website that publishes mostly liberal writers, it appears MinnPost is wearing the Kersten interview as a fig leaf of sorts.

The only problem is that MinnPost is dependent on readers for donations, and in comments below the Kersten interview, it was clear the audience felt outraged and betrayed over a puff piece on their most ardent adversary.

MinnPost's managing editor, Roger Buoen, defended his editorial decision on Friday to publish the two-part interview, in which author Michael J. Bonafield offered questions but never challenges Kersten's assertions on everything from gay marriage to taxes to Trotsky-loving liberals.

"It never entered my mind" that giving Kersten an unobstructed forum to express her controversial views might aggravate readers to the point that they'd cut off their donations, Buoen says.

Those donations matter. MinnPost is a registered non-profit. Its launch was seeded by initial funding of $850,000 from four families, MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer, and his wife, Laurie. The site also draws on the philanthropy of various major-player foundations. And its donors pitch in anywhere from $10 to $20,000 a year.

Producing quality journalism under that kind of umbrella "is something that we talk about all the time," Buoen said, adding that in the end the editorial decisions are made independent of donor influences, and MinnPost trusts its readers and supporters to understand.

"Katherine Kersten is one of the most prominent conservative columnists in town. She's an important person," Buoen says. Maybe most MinnPost readers disagree with what she has to say, and maybe most MinnPost staffers -- described by Buoen himself as a liberal crowd -- don't like her views either. But, he says, there's nothing wrong with exposing those views.

Indeed, Buoen said he'd happily hire a self-described conservative journalist to change up the dynamics of his newsroom--if he could find one willing to do good original reporting and writing that goes beyond an opinion piece.

"It's hard to find them," he says.