Meet Our Freelance Journalists

Get to know the folks behind the bylines in our three neighborhood publications. Our freelancers write articles and columns, and snap photos to help us tell the stories of the people in our community.


We are blown away by the 20 awards we won in the 2022   Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest:

We won awards across the categories of articles, photographs, ad design, infographics and typography/design. Our one-year-old Southwest Connector paper brought home 9 of those awards. We earned 9 first-place awards. Taking home first-place honors for articles and photographs were Jill Boogren, Eric Erickson, Terry Faust and Tesha M. Christensen. Click here to read more.

We are proud to have won the following awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association for 2021:

1) Iric Nathanson, 2nd Place, hard news, Messenger, "Redesign saves Coliseum from wrecking ball"

2) Chloe Peter, Margie O’Loughlin and Tesha M. Christensen, 2nd Place, Category X, for five articles about COVID-19 in the Messenger: “Pregnant and parenting during COVID-19," “People and Pets keeps families from giving up on animals,” “TSA agent, Longfellow man dies of COVID-19,” “Up close with three coffee shops,” and “Up close with local families: glimpse into their lives as they juggle work and online schooling during COVID-19 pandemic.”

3) Tesha M. Christensen, 3rd place, Social Issues, Monitor, “She must have done something wrong," part of the Voices Against Violence series.

We are proud to have won the following award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association for 2020:

1) Tesha M. Christensen, 2nd place, Social Issues, Messenger - “Jennifer's ex tired to convince her, others she was crazy," "No one will believe you," and "It should never have happened," 3 stories in the Voices Against Violence series.

Abha Karnick

Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. Her passion lies in storytelling and finding moments to capture.

Amy Pass

South Minneapolis resident Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.

Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon has lived in Minneapolis all his life, growing up in the Cedar-Isle-Dean neighborhood and graduating from the old West High School. He has lived and been active in the Cedar Riverside, Longfellow, and Seward neighborhoods since graduating from the University of Minnesota in the late 70s. He has written and edited for smaller newspapers, including the Seward Profile, Jola Education Monthly and Public School Montessorian, and is author of Together with Montessori, a guide for those wanting to learn about and practice Montessori education. He worked extensively in early childhood education before being elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2005 and serving as the Second Ward City Council Member for four terms, ending in January 2022.

Chloe Peter

Chloe Peter is a Hopkins resident who graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Bethel University in May 2022. "I have known that I wanted to be a journalist since I was 12 years old and visited the 'Women of Vision' exhibit, a gathering of work from women photographers, at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.," she said. "Even though I am newer to the world of journalism, I am eager to learn and to amplify voices and truth." In her spare time, she enjoys reading and playing with her German Shepherd puppy, Smokey, hiking, and cooking (and eating) new foods. 

Donald L. Hammen

Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice steering committee.

Eric Erickson

Eric Erickson is a longtime teacher and coach at Como Park High School. He teaches AP Government, AP Economics, and U.S. History, and was recognized as a Minnesota Teacher of the Year semifinalist in 2019. His coaching experience includes track & field, basketball, and soccer including leading the Cougar boys to the state championship in 2013. Eric and his family (wife Laura, two daughters, dog, and cat) have lived in the Como area since 2000. Promoting and celebrating the good things happening in the neighborhood is a lifestyle that Eric takes pride in doing daily at school, and monthly for the Monitor.

Iric Nathanson

Author Iric Nathanson writes and lectures about Minnesota History. His earlier works have included histories of the Minneapolis Riverfront, Downtown Minneapolis and Downtown St. Paul. His most recent book is “Don Fraser: Minnesota’s Quiet Crusader.” An instructor for the University of Minnesota’s Ocher Lifelong Learning Institute, he has published essays in the Star Tribune, Minnesota History, and Hennepin History. Iric lives in Greater Longfellow, and has been writing for the Messenger for decades.

Jan Willms

Jan counsels homeless youth during the week, and writes for the Messenger and Monitor after work and on weekends. “Writing can be a lonely career, but when you are writing for a community newspaper, it is anything but,” said Jan, who lives in St. Paul and used to own and operate a newspaper in Montana. “Every story you write brings at least one new person into your life, a new idea, a new mission. Each writing assignment brings with it different challenges, as well as experience and knowledge. Whether it is writing about an organization that is bringing a form of justice to the community, or an individual who is passionate about his or her cause, or an artist or writer or performer who shines a light on a particular topic, as a writer you collect some of that excitement when you hear your subject’s story. And it stays with you.”

Jane McClure

The longtime Merriam Park and current Macalester-Groveland resident has covered city and county government for almost four decades for community newspapers including the Monitor and the Highland Park Villager. Jane is also managing editor at Access Press, the statewide newspaper for Minnesotans with disabilities. She is a past president of the Neighborhood and Community Press Association, and served on the Society of Professional Journalists Board and the Minnesota Joint Media Law Committee. She volunteers every summer at the Hamline Church dining hall and Minnesota State Fair Newspaper Museum. Jane has worked on several local histories, including the Historic St. Paul online Frogtown tour, is working on a Midway Chamber of Commerce history, and is on the Historic Highland Park writing team.

Jill Boogren

Longtime Nokomis resident Jill Boogren has been writing about arts, theater and local happenings for the Messenger since 2012. She’s also driven to share the stories of those on the Southside who are fighting for racial and social justice. In her spare time, Jill loves kayaking Lake Nokomis and walking, biking and skiing area trails. She buys local and delicious whenever possible, and enjoys a cutthroat game of Scrabble.

Matthew Davis

Matthew is an experienced sports reporter and has covered Olympic, professional, collegiate and high school athletes for various newspapers and websites including the Villager, Rivertowns Newspapers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine, Heavy, and the Star Tribune. He won a North Dakota Newspaper Association sports reporting award in 2008. He has a degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University, and works full-time as an associate publisher for Decided Excellence Catholic Media. Davis and his two kids live in South Minneapolis.

Susan Schaefer

Susan Schaefer is a widely published independent journalist, creative writer, poet, communications consultant, and coach, and a former university professor, and newspaper editor and publisher.

Certified as a facilitator from the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program and a Presence Based coach, accredited in public relations, with a doctoral equivalent in European Public Affairs and a master's degree in English, Susan brings dynamic perspective to client work providing counsel to government, business, NGO and not-for-profit leaders from such fields as higher education, environment, architecture, engineering, and law.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she co-published and edited its downtown biweekly, the South Street Star. Her articles have appeared in Next Avenue, Next Tribe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily NewsMill City Times, the Seward Profile, and the Netherlands’ Crossroads Magazine. She was columnist and features writer for Minneapolis’ Southwest Journal and Minnesota Good Age  magazine.

Susan’s journey has included living in Delhi, India; Bogotá, Colombia; Pompano Beach, Fla.; Maastricht, the Netherlands; She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minn., atop Bohemian Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, her daily source of inspiration.

Terry Faust

“I find telling stories with images comes naturally to me, and I was fortunate to make a living at it,” said Terry, who graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in studio arts. He was employed as an in-house photographer for several Twin Cities businesses over the years, and then moved to freelancing as a photographer, slide show producer, and video producer. He has been taking photos for the Messenger and Monitor since 1992. In his retirement, he writes urban fantasy, mainstream young adult novels, and humorous science fiction spoofs. Terry makes small weather vanes for Little Free Libraries (www.weeweathervanes@gmail.com) and calls Longfellow his home.

Z Akhmetova

Z is an artist who loves slowing down and spending time with the little things. Z makes nature illustrations, fantasy comics, and soft sculpture as a way to try and understand the beauty of the mundane and the meaning of family and community. They were born in Russia and now live in Frogtown. Their website is www.azakhm.com.