Covering West St. Paul City Council meetings has been an important part of West St. Paul Reader’s coverage since the very beginning (our first post, in fact). During our first-ever member drive we thought it’d be helpful to explain how and why we cover City Council.
“I’m a big fan of the City Council updates. They give me a good sense of what’s going on in the community, often before there are obvious signs of it.”Joshua Przybylski
Support our City Council coverage by becoming a member. Join now!
Why We Cover City Council
Following the local City Council may seem pretty nerdy, but it’s the lifeblood of what’s happening in your community, from parks to roads to development.
- Protect democracy: Local news is an important safeguard for democracy. By reporting on City Council, we’re shining the light of transparency on local government.
- Accessible: City Council is transparent—meetings are open to the public and available online and on TV. But not everyone has time to attend or watch. Our coverage makes City Council more accessible.
- Context: Even if you’re able to attend or watch City Council, you might not understand the context of what’s happening. Our coverage explains the context, often linking back to previous meetings or offering additional explanation.
How We Cover City Council
- Minutes don’t count: City Council does make meeting minutes available to the public. So why do we need coverage of each meeting? Those minutes have to be approved by the City Council itself, so they don’t come out until weeks later. Also, they’re just a record of who said what, often briefly summarized with little detail. No context, not very accessible, and way too late.
- Cover the meeting: Journalistic best practice is to report on the news that comes out of a meeting, not the meeting itself. Good thing we don’t have a background in journalism. Because that means we miss out on the everyday actions of City Council and where our elected officials stand. If news comes out of City Council, we’ll certainly run a standalone article and give it more attention. But the recap is still vital to keep up with what’s happening and how our elected officials are representing us.
- Preview: In addition to the recap of each meeting, we also offer a preview. Why? Because after the meeting is over it’s too late for residents to speak to an issue. The city makes agendas available, but we make it accessible and provide context about what’s likely newsworthy.
- All the meetings: Covering the regular City Council meeting isn’t enough. The real decisions happen during the work sessions. The regular meetings are often ceremonial with unanimous votes and little debate (though not always). By covering work sessions we see divisions between Council members and get a sense of what’s coming (or what has no support and won’t come forward). That often means several more hours of City Council coverage every month.
- Guide: We also offer a guide to City Council, since attending a meeting or following along can be confusing and bewildering.
Support Our Coverage
Our City Council coverage is supported by neighbors like you. We couldn’t do it without the regular support of our members. Please consider becoming a member and supporting our efforts to cover West St. Paul City Council.
- Starts at just $3 per month.
- Pay annually and save 5%.
- Get a locally commissioned West St. Paul postcard, weekly member updates, and a discount to our store.
More Coverage: School Board Meetings
While we’ve covered City Council since the beginning, there’s another local government body that doesn’t get much attention—ISD 197 school board. We’d love to cover local school board meetings just like we cover City Council, but we need your support.
Join now: Help us get to 250 members and we’ll start covering school board meetings.