Newspapers in North Dakota and South Dakota this week will be doing a variety of things to observe National Newspaper Week. On the Tribune editorial pages in the coming days readers will see columns devoted to the importance of free speech and newspapers.
The Tribune tries not to tout itself excessively, but the Tribune Editorial Board feels this week is a good time to remind readers of newspapers’ importance.
“Across the Dakotas, newspapers are the main source of local news in their communities,” said Steve Andrist, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. “Newspapers write the first draft of history, and they are like a glue that holds communities together,” he said. “There are 90 newspapers in the state’s 53 counties that provide these vital services.”
Newspapers report the births of the next generation and the deaths of earlier generations. In between we report the endeavors and accomplishments of our community. You can read about achievements in school, 4-H and athletic events and learn of upcoming marriages. The newspaper is the chronicle of lives, some more notable than others.
Newspapers can evoke a variety of emotions on a daily basis. Readers might laugh, cry, get angry or become enlightened when reading the daily paper. Some look forward to the daily challenge of the crossword puzzle while others like the advice and bridge columns. The biggest draw for readers remains the local news. Newspapers provide more indepth reporting on local issues than any other media. Now, newspapers supplement that coverage with as-it-happens online and mobile reports. The news is immediate and at your fingertips.
Some readers think our editorial page is too liberal or too conservative. We faced similar criticism over our coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests with many people thinking we leaned one way or the other. In both cases we strive for unbiased and balanced coverage. On our editorial pages we try to reflect the views of all sides. It’s not unusual for one reader to praise a column while another condemns it.
We must be doing something right because research conducted earlier this year shows that newspapers are read every week in 82 percent of North Dakota households. That doesn’t indicate a dying industry.
Many newspapers in North Dakota and South Dakota will observe National Newspaper Week by printing blank front pages. This “Dakotas Whiteout” is designed to provide a glimpse of what it would be like if there were no newspapers to provide local news to the communities they serve. The Tribune isn’t taking part in the “Whiteout,” not because we don’t believe the message is important, but because we feel strongly our readers understand the importance of newspapers in their daily lives.
Later this week there will be columns on the editorial page by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., discussing the valuable service provided by newspapers.
The Tribune Editorial Board hopes our readers gain some insight and appreciation of newspapers this week.