About Us

For over 50 years as publisher of the Chisholm Free Press/Tribune Press, Veda Ponikvar spoke the truth as she knew it. Iron Country Free Press continues her tradition of honesty in journalism; we do our homework and get our facts straight.  We believe that leaders, and those who wish to be leaders, have an obligation to tell the truth. We will hold them to that standard without regard for who they are or what party they represent. No exceptions.  If it’s true and needs to be said, you’ll read it here.

Iron Country Free Press features news and politics from a northeastern Minnesota perspective. Content on this site will be a mix of political and social commentary, editorials, old-fashioned investigative journalism and political satire. We trust our readers are intelligent enough to tell the difference. Posts are the original work of the author unless otherwise noted, and opinions expressed are theirs alone.

Are we biased?  Of course we are, but we are fair and will always disclose conflicts of interest. Readers may not always like what we say, but can rely that the facts as presented are correct.

Think we got something wrong?  Email us at ironcountryfreepress@gmail.com and present your facts. We’ll issue a correction if necessary. But if you’re just going to throw a temper tantrum because you don’t like what we said and launch into personal attacks, save your breath. Again, if it’s true and needs to be said, we will say it here.


Veda Ponikvar is the former publisher of the Chisholm Free Press/Tribune Press. A daughter of Slovenian immigrants, she founded the Chisholm Free Press in 1946 to be the voice of the iron ore miners, and in doing so became the first female newspaper publisher in the country. Recognized by the Historical Society as one of Minnesota’s 150 most important people, Veda helped shape the political culture of the Iron Range and her opinions have influenced the development of the region, and the political careers of many, for generations.

Shelly Mategko is an award-winning investigative journalist and former lobbyist with fourth generation roots on the Iron Range and currently resides in Duluth, Minnesota. She is a seasoned political activist and trade unionist who over the years has advised and worked for noted political figures such as State Rep.Tommy Rukavina, US Rep Collin Peterson, former US Rep Jim Oberstar and former Gov. Wendell Anderson.  Now retired from the world of partisan politics, Shelly is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting, and writes a political column for Zenith News.

OTIS the Cactus Originally cultivated by the CIA for the Shah of Iran, Otis the Cactus fled to the United States in 1979 to avoid defoliation by the revolution.  He served as executive assistant to head White House tulip B.J. Eddy under President Carter.  Exiled by President Reagan, they went on to found the Washington DC consulting firm of Otis & Eddy, where they became responsible for global warming.  A noted lecturer and author, Otis’s latest best selling book is: “Tarryl Clark:  Invasive Species.”