Newspaper Archive of
Tri-County News
Kimball, Minnesota
October 21, 2010     Tri-County News
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October 21, 2010

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Page 4 Opinion The evolving role of newspapers I remember well the good old days. TV news came on twice a day (long before cable), and newspa- pers came out twice a day in Min- neapolis. Anything worth know- ing about was delivered that way. There really was nothing else. Today, however;,information comes at us non-stop, from all directions. Thelatest, of course, are Facebook and Twitter. But there are RSS feeds online, Google News (and many others), many 24-hour news stations on cable, e-mail newsletters and blasts, and more. But does the sheer quantityof available news mean we&apos;re get- ting quality news? I say no. No more than the constant availabil- ity of music, from much the same sources as news, makes it neces- sarily quality music. For a couple of year s now I've heard the argument that news- papers aren t needed now, in the age of the Internet. I say they're needed even more now than ever. (And it's not just because I happen to work at a newspaper.) In the past two or three years, television news has cut way back. They broadcast more often, but with far fewer people, and espe- cially far fewer journalists. I lis- ten to the 5:00 news pretty much every day, and at least 90 percent of what they read on-air consists of the same press releases I received earlier in the day or they're report- ing on what some newspaper in the state has printed. Precious lit- tle is actually generated by people who work for the TV station. That's sad, for TV anyway. Radio news is pretty much the same: press releases (that go to just about everybody in the news business) and what newspapers have covered. Want to rely on the Internet for your news? Well, ask yourself just who is providing that news. There are dozens (if not thou- sands) of what we call "scrap- ers" on the Internet. They set up computer code to automatically "scrape" news content from web- sites that put up news content, usually newspapers and televi- sion news. The "scraped" stories are assembled on a page and pre- sented to readers on a page, some- times e-mailed to those who ask to receive it. But are these sites actu- ally creating anything. Nope. Think of it as a bunch of juke- boxes out there, digital jukeboxes. They collect and present stories they don't create. They don't pay the creators of the stories to use them. And they try to make money for themselves (via advertising) off of the creative work of others. (The Associated Press, by the way, is heading a movement to end such "scraping" of copyrighted content without pay.) But who cares about newspa- pers? What happens when a local newspaper goes away? Remember last month when the small town of Bell, Calif., made the national news? Eight city employees and council members were arrested in a $5.5 million corruption case; they'd been stealing city funds for personal use, taking illegal loans and claiming salaries of nearly $800,000. Bell used to have its own paper. It got bought out by a chain in Los Angeles. No local coverage, no "light shone into dark corners," no "watchdog." And look what happened, in a fairly short period of time. No one else was covering the city of Bell, not until things had evolved to the point of scandal anyway. Now everybody knows about Bell. So, back to local newspapers. While giant, top-heavy daily newspapers have been tumbling these past years, most community weekly papers have been holding their own and doing well. Some are even thriving, even in these difficult economic times. Why is that? How is that? Well, local newspapers do some- thing that no TV news or Internet "scraper" can do: local news. And I mean local news. (When was the last time you saw a story on TV or the Interne[ about someone, any- one, making Eagle Scout? Here, that's news! News that's important to the young man and his family, but also to his whole community. And no one else is going to report it.) The Tri-County News has been online for more than 10 years now; for us it's not a passing fad or the latest technotrend to jump into. Even before I owned the paper, I paid to put it online. I believe that's important. It's an impor- tant adjunct to the printed paper. While there is a good deal of over- lap, the print and online Tri- County News really are different, and we're making those distinc- tions even more pronounced now. There are things online that are not in print, and several things in print that won't be online (partic- ularly things about students, and that is largely for safety reasons). Nearly all newspapers are now online, at least in some form. Everyone tells us that our web- site is particularly good, and we work really hard to make it so. We update it daily, and our readers can request to receive those updates every morning by e-mail. It's a way for us to present news that hap- pens between the weekly print editions, too. But it's intended to be a supplement to the printed version of the paper, not a replace- ment for it. We work hard every day to pro- vide you, our readers, with the most relevant and interesting con- tent each day and each week. We appreciate you, our readers. And we appreciate you, our advertisers. You are our very reasons for work- ing so long and so hard. We wel- come feedback from you so we can continue to improve. I view my role as editor of the Tri-County News (and TriCoun- tyNews.MN) as that of informa- tion valet. I receive hundreds - literally hundreds - of pieces of information every single day. I go through that information and fil- ter it down to what is relevant to our readers, here. We also create information that's important and relevant to our readers. Then, each week, we serve up a big "plate" full of photos and stories, ads and events, something for everyone and every interest, and local. Our website masthead reads "Local people. Local stories. Local life." And we live that every single day, in a way that no one else can. Thursday, October 21, 2010 Tri-County News Kimball, MN Jill Pertler "Slices of Life" Counting your friends and one of them exited through the back door without saying goodbye, would you know who it was? Me neither. I may have 150 friends, but I'm still worried about number 151. What made him or her go by the wayside? Did I share too much? Were my posts boring? Unwor- thy? Grammatically incorrect? What, exactly, made me unfriend- ish material? It is a downer, losing a friend. I tried talking myself out of my unfriended funk. So I was down one friend- no big deal. After all, I still had 150 people who liked me. Doesn't that count for something? On Facebook it does. Liter- ally. Facebook counts my friends for me. Talk about a math-lover's dream. I wasn't blessed with the math gene; still, I loved it at first - watching my friend count rise like the sun. It was all the reward with no effort. That's my kind of math. Then I lost a friend and the sun- set didn't look so rosy. I've never been one to focus on the numbers (as my high school math teachers would attest). Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I am worrying too much about the numerical significance of things. Facebook quantifies friends in a manner worthy of cyberspace, allowing me the ability to tell the difference between 150 and 151. The numbers are visible for the perusing, but it's up to me whether I choose to pay attention. As far as I'm concerned, anything over the number 50 is pretty many. I think we all can agree 150 is way more than that. So, in essence, I have way more than pretty many friends. Now, there's a number I can live with. Jill Pertler is a syndicated colum- nist and author of"The Do-It-Your- selfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." E-mail her at <pertmn@qwest. net>; Follow Slices on Facebook, or check out her website at <http:// marketing-by-design, home. mchsi. corn/>. I lost a friend yesterday. It wasn't due to accident, injury, death or any other natural causes. I suf- fered a digital loss. Not of the fin- ger or toe variety, but of the com- puter kind. Facebook-related. Yesterday, I visited the social networking site and noted I had 151 friends. Today, when I ven- tured back to my page, the num- ber had dipped to 150. There could be only one explanation. I'd been unfriended. Usually, Facebook is associated with the acquisition of friends which, by the way, is a multi-step process. Friendships are created when two parties mutually accept one another through a recipro- cal relationship. You find a poten- tial friend, make a formal friend request, and he or she chooses whether to approve (or not) your friendship. If approval is given, you receive notice of your new friend and your automated Face- book friendship counter increases in value by one. Unfriending involves nothing reciprocal or multi-step. It is sud- den and mysterious, occurring without warning or explanation. A person can unfriend you with- out reason or cause. According to Facebook, ending a friendship is a solo affair. Two are needed to make a union, but only one to sever it. I'd been severed, and the sit- uation felt neither sociable nor friendly. Someone had left the party - my party - and the darn thing was I had no idea who the party-pooper might be. My first reaction was to try to figure out the identity of this ex-comrade, so I did what any red-blooded woman would do..I checked to make sure my husband was still my friend. We were good to go there. Whew. Lucky for him. After also confirming my friendship status with my kids and a few old high school buddies, I remained at a loss (quite literally, but you know what I mean). If you attended a party with 151 people 00vov00? W 1FJRoRt A PLANET L, I PoPE OT TO0 I ..,,'-. .. DEADLINE: 2 p.m. Mondays POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Tri-County News, P.O. Box 220, KimbaLl MN 55353. The TrY-County News (USPS 639- 180) is entered at the Post Office, KirnbaU, Minnesota 55353, as Periodi- cals. It is published Thursdays by the Tri-County News, Inc., P.O. Box 220, KirnbaU MN 55353, Stearns County. LOCATION: Our office is at 70 Main Street South in downtown Kimball. Weekday office hours are Monday 9 a. m.- 5 p. m. and Tuesday th rough Fri- day 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Our telephone and fax number is (320) 398-5000. E-mail can be addressed to <news@tricounty news.biN>. Our Web site is <www. tricountynews.htN>. We aLso have a drop site at Ertt Hardware Hank in downtown Watkins. DEADLINE: 2 p.m. Monday. RATES: Subscription rates are S30/year ($20 for age 62 and oLd- er) in Minnesota; $40/year (530 for seniors) elsewhere in the U.S. Single copy price is 75 cents. STAFF: Jean Doran Matua, Editor and PubLisher Sue Hughes: Creative Designer Maxine Doran: Admin. Associate Marguerite Laabs: Photographer Marlene A. Young: Ad Sates Rep The staff of the Tri-County News recognizes that it has a re- sponsibility to report the news ac- curately and fairly, and that it is accountable to the public. Please contact our office if you feeL we've fallen short of that objective. LETTERS: The Tri-County News welcomes Letters promoting the exchange of ideas and opinions. To be considered for pubLication, Let- ters should address a topic of cur- rent or general interest. Private thanks, poLiticaL self-promotion, li- belous Letters, or Letters denigrating character or reputation will not be published. All letters must bear the writer's signature, address and tele- phone number. We reserve the right to edit for cLarity and readabiLity. LEGAL PUBLICATION: The Tri- County News is the publication of record for the city of Kimball, Independent SchooL District #739, Clearwater River Watershed Dis- trict, Stearns County, and the Townships of Fair Haven, Kingston and Maine Prairie. RECYCLING: The Tri-County News is printed with soy inks on recycLed paper whenever possibLe. We encourage recycling. COPYRIGHT: AU content herein is the property of the Tri-County News and is protected by U.S. copyright Law; content may not be reproduced without our written prior consent. We are proud to be a member of: Minnesota Newspaper Assoc. KimbalL Area Chamber Kimball Area Historical Society Stearns County Press Assoc. 2009 MNA Award for Best Self- Promotion Ad; 2008 MNA Award for Best Advertisement; 2008 Award for Portrait and Personality Photography; 2007 MNA Award for Advertising ExceLLence; 2007 MNA Award, Best Information Graphic; 2006 MNA Award, Classified Adver- tising; 2004 MNAAward, Advertis- ing Exceilence; 2000 MNAAward, Best Local News Story. @ 2010, TH-County News TCN Office Hours: Mondays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-rri., 9 a.m.-2 p.m. In i mill it|mln00]Mlmnlgilillll ]non00HHMioK)Ei00-00Dl0000 ml00Hi ....