Newspaper article

Growing Number of Somali Media Outlets in Minnesota Aim to Shed Positive Light on Community

Newspaper article

Growing Number of Somali Media Outlets in Minnesota Aim to Shed Positive Light on Community

Article excerpt

As immigration remains a hot-button issue in American politics, more Somali media outlets have spread across Minnesota in recent years — often to amplify the community’s positive contributions — even as the businesses face steep financial challenges.

In 2017 alone, SomaliAmerican, a monthly 10,000-circulation newspaper in Minneapolis; GTN News, a bilingual television channel in St. Cloud; and Somali Link Radio, a weekly show at KFAI Radio, joined an already crowded Somali-language print and broadcast landscape in Minnesota.

In 2015, the Minneapolis-based KALY Somali-American Radio, a low-power FM station, joined the airwaves to provide Somali-Americans with around-the-clock news and music programming. And in 2014, the online news operation Tusmo Times added a 5,000-circulation newspaper that is now distributed in Somali-owned businesses and community centers throughout the Twin Cities metro area.

While the owners of these news sources may have different niches, what motivated them to enter the media business, they say, is the desire to focus attention on community stories that other news outlets often only give a passing glance. “One of the reasons I started this work is to promote the success stories of the African community,” said Haji Yusuf, owner and host of GTN News. “I wanted to show their success stories and the success of their businesses; the success of individuals who are doctors and nurses.”

A tough business

Covering those kinds of stories was also the reason Warsame Guled founded the monthly Somali American last year. But that wasn’t the only one. Guled, who also owns a home care business in Minneapolis, thought of the idea to establish a newspaper when he and other entrepreneurs realized they couldn’t find a platform to promote their businesses. “We were looking for ways to reach the Somali community,” Guled said. “I found out that there were no direct channels to reach Somali people.”

Today, the paper distributes 10,000 free copies of the paper, which — like other ethnic newspapers — are available in coffee shops, restaurants, community centers, libraries and other public spaces that Somali-Americans frequent.

The paper often focuses on Somali-related events in Minneapolis. Stories are written by freelance reporters or volunteers, or reprinted from other news organizations.

Its competitor, Tusmo Times, tends to cover local, national and international Somali-related stories. Originally called Ciyaartoy and established in 2012 to give the Somali community online coverage of sports, the organization eventually changed its name and expanded its coverage to include hard news and created a monthly newspaper printed in both Somali and English.

“My main goal is to document and archive the stories of the Somali-American community in Minnesota,” said Abdirahman Mukhtar, founder of Tusmo Times. …

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