Imagine a day without local news

The world is changing incredibly fast, and still North Dakota newspapers remain strong  because they provide information that improves the life of the communities they serve.

Publisher, The Dickinson Press

Imagine you go to pick up your hometown newspaper and it isn’t on your porch or in your mail box.

You call the newspaper office and a recording tells you the newspaper is no longer in business.

Upset? Yes.

Surprised? No. Folks have been predicting the end of newspapers since the early days of radio.

You turn on the radio and the disc jockey says there will be no local news report today because the newspaper hasn’t arrived.

Click on the television and the anchor reports what you already know —  the newspaper closed its doors — and proceeds to rehash yesterday’s local news.

Internet news sites don’t offer current local news, but a Google search for local news reveals yesterday’s news and reports the local newspaper closed.

Facebook posts remind us what they have been saying forever — nobody reads the newspaper. But there are no local news posts.  So many questions, so few answers. Who is running for city council? What were the cop cars doing at the house down the hill?  When is the next school board meeting?  Why did my property taxes go up?

We live in the information age, but suddenly there is no local information. You can search multiple government websites, which now are required to contain meeting minutes.   Without a local newspaper government meetings will be posted on their own sites void of discussion and the public review publishing in the newspaper now guarantees.  Court records will be published unedited online without public scrutiny. Every day the police produce a call log but instead of sharing on Facebook they post training and P.R. photos.  City government may post on its website that your water will be turned off for maintenance, which you learn when you step into the shower.

The county posts  after the fact that a contract is issued for road repairs on the street you drive to work.  Your teenager informs you after the first day of school the school board discussed and decided to change the curriculum at the high school this summer.

Who, what, where, when and most importantly why has been the mission of newspapers since the invention of first printing press. It’s not fake news, but real, like who decided to raise property taxes, what is the new rate going to cost you, where is the extra money going and when will the new rate take effect.

Just as important, the local newspaper opinion page provides a necessary public soap box to discuss, suggest, question, congratulate and yes, criticize the people you  elect.

Ignorance is anything but bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you and your loved ones.

Keeping up with what is happening in your town takes an incredible amount of time and leg work to attend meetings and events, conduct interviews and so research.  Your local newspaper, daily or weekly, has more caring people on the street than any other media providing credible answers to all five of these questions.

Local newspapers bring information to life and have always played a significant role in building better communities.  Newspapers provide something for everyone from who was born married or passed away. What is on sale at the market? Where is the church bazar being held? When is the big game? Why is there no school today?

Communities  depend on this information.

The world is changing incredibly fast, and still North Dakota newspapers remain strong  because they provide information that improves the life of the communities they serve.

This week, North Dakota Newspaper Associations members are celebrating National Newspaper Week and many are producing a blank front page that simply asks our readers to “Imagine a day without local news”.

(Harvey Brock is president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.)