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Newspapers hold vital role with readers

Posted 10/06/15 (Tue)

Newspapers hold vital role with readers

By Sydney Glasoe Caraballo
Newspapers rustle, crinkle and snap the air as nearly 20 students in Nate Nelson’s class peruse the pages.
The elective course, which spends the first semester on current events, is popular with students. The students read The Journal and the Minot Daily News to discover what is going on locally and around the world. 
Tyler Harward, a senior, said his favorite section is The Journal’s sports page, but he makes sure to check all of the headlines. When asked if he will continue to read newspapers outside of class, he doesn’t hesitate.
“There’s more truth in the newspaper than what you find online,” he says.
It is National Newspaper Week this week, and NNW is celebrating its 75th anniversary with the theme: “Power of the Press.” While Nelson’s students mention sports and crime stories as their favorites, they also admit that the newspapers’ coverage of government and politics is newsworthy to them.
“I’ve become a more critical reader,” sophomore Troy Knudson said of his daily newspaper perusals.
Makenzie Olson, a junior, also prefers The Journal and print media to find out what is going on in her world.
“It’s more accurate than other forms of media because of the sources,” she said.
Long before Crosby Mayor and state Rep. Bert Anderson became such a source due to his public offices, he had a keen interest in reading about local politics in The Journal. He said his perspective on the role of the newspaper to inform and act as a government watchdog didn’t change much when he was elected to city council and began seeing his words in print.
“My dad once told me, ‘Don’t pick a fight with people who buy ink by the gallon,’” he said, chuckling.
That said, Anderson doesn’t like to imagine Crosby without a local paper.
“It’s beneficial to have local press,” Anderson said. “This is how people find out what is happening in Crosby.”
He recalls when the city council debated years ago whether to pass an ordinance banning exotic dancers. Anderson said the newspaper’s coverage of the city council meeting addressing that issue facilitated a thorough and ongoing discussion among residents and council members. The city council ultimately decided the fairest way to handle the issue was to have residents vote.
County Commissioner Doug Graupe said the printed word carries weight and momentum, which he appreciates.
“Without the newspaper, there would be a lot less information at people’s disposal,” Graupe said. “Info spread just through word of mouth becomes rumor as it’s passed on.”
Both Graupe and Anderson agree that it isn’t always pleasant having city council and county commissioner meetings covered by the paper.
“There have been times when I feel I’ve been misquoted or am surprised by how I’ve come across,” Graupe said.
Divide County State’s Attorney Seymour Jordan believes residents are privileged to have a local paper, while the coverage of crimes committed and ongoing cases create a professional challenge for him.
“This is a small community with a small jury pool,” he said. “When potential jurors read an article about the case, it’s hard for them to be fair and impartial.”
Jordan said he reads the paper cover to cover each week and especially enjoys seeing front-page news that would never make headlines in other papers.
“It’s nice to have nice stories instead of just ‘bleed leads,’” said Jordan, who has lived in several major cities whose community newspapers included dailies from New York; Charlotte, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Denver.
While the state’s attorney declines to discuss pending cases due to a small jury pool, he thinks dispositions, also known as the judge’s rulings or conclusions of cases, should always be provided to the newspaper. Jordan believes he and other elected officials should have to answer to their constituents; he says the newspaper is an effective tool for the public to find those answers.
Anderson agrees.
“People have a right to know what we’re doing and what we’re saying,” Anderson said of the newspaper’s coverage. “It’s good to know that what you are saying, the public will hear.”