A landmark anniversary coincides with a significant website update this week at the Rock County Star Herald.
The newspaper printed its first edition in 1873, more than 150 years ago, and it’s today a thriving operation — and Rock County’s oldest business.
The Star Herald online presence saw a major upgrade in the past week with the rollout of a new website.
The site features easier navigation, bigger photographs, more content and a better mobile-friendly version for cell phones and other devices.
“We’re really excited to introduce the site’s new features to our online readers and advertisers,” said Star Herald production manager Heather Johnson, who has taken the lead on the site’s new design and back-end capabilities.
“It’s better on so many levels, and it’s so nice to showcase our Star Herald news and photos in the upgraded online format.”
To celebrate the online improvements, the website will be free for one month to anyone who visits the site, www.star-herald.com. Existing online subscribers will have a free month added to their membership.
Managing editor Lori Sorenson said this is another significant moment in the history of the Rock County Star Herald.
“We are really proud of the work we do at the paper, and it’s exciting to see our stories and photographs come to life on the screen and mobile devices,” said Sorenson, who started at the Star Herald in 1993.
“Our new website has been in the works for several months, and it’s rewarding to finally roll it out live online. We hope everyone takes the opportunity to explore the site for free.”
Sorenson said keeping up with industry changes and technology updates is a big reason the Star Herald is still in business.
“When I started 30 years ago at the paper, we developed film and printed photographs in the darkroom,” she said.
“Our pages were assembled with waxed paper strips of type and hand-delivered to our printer in Worthington.”
But those practices were a vast improvement over those employed in the earliest days of the paper’s existence.
First edition published on May 24, 1873
Today’s Star Herald dates to 1873, when S.J. Jenkins brought an old hand press and a few cases of type to Luverne by ox-drawn wagon.
He started a paper May 24, 1873, and the front-page news was that, at last, Rock County had its own paper. It was called the Rock County Herald and cost $2 a year to subscribe.
In 1920 the Rock County Star was founded as a competitor to the more Republican Herald, and the two papers merged in 1942, when Star owner Alan C. McIntosh purchased the Herald.
He was publisher of the Star Herald until 1968 when he sold the business to Robert and James Vance, who sold it five years later to Bruce and Jean Harrison.
In 1983 they sold the paper to Roger Tollefson, who owned the Luverne Announcer, the shopper he purchased from his parents, Lester and Sue Tollefson in 1977.
Tollefson said his father returned to Luverne from World War II and discovered his job as a pressman at the Herald had been filled by someone else.
At the time, the Announcer was a single-sheet mimeographed flyer that circulated with daily advertised specials from local businesses.
The senior Tollefson took over that operation and converted it to a Heidelberg sheet-fed press and began printing weekly in tabloid format.
Still telling Rock County’s stories, recording local history
Today, the award-winning writers and designers at the Star Herald produce content entirely in digital format with weekly editions sent to press online and shared with readers online and in print.
Despite the technology changes and improvements, Sorenson said she’s proud to say the Star Herald continues to fulfill the publication’s mission set forth in 1873.
“We are still the newspaper for the people of Rock County about the people of Rock County,” she said.
“Our news team covers city councils, school boards and the Rock County commissioners in order to keep citizens informed about how their elected officials are spending their tax dollars.”
Even more important, Sorenson said, is that the Star Herald continues as the voice of Rock County and sets the tone for community progress.
“We’re telling the stories of the people who shape the direction of their communities,” she said.
“And we’re recording the weekly history of our communities for generations to come. … I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate our 150th anniversary and the technology upgrades that ensure our success for the future.”
To read the Star Herald online for free, simply visit www.star-herald.com and peruse the site, which has links to subscribe after the free month expires.
To inquire about advertising on the Star Herald’s most visited online pages, email email@example.com.
The Star Herald’s phone number is 507-283-2333.
Check out some of the new features of our website!
Video tutorials can be found here: https://www.star-herald.com/tutorials