Is this the golden age of ignorance?

By Al Cross

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Al Cross

Does the reportedly mixed reaction to the death of a small weekly newspaper on the Lake of the Woods show we have entered “the golden age of ignorance,” as Minnesota Public Radio blogger Bob Collins declared?

Perhaps, if newspapers can’t convince communities that they are an essential civic asset.

Collins’ declaration came in a follow-up to MPR reporter John Engler’s report on the May 7 demise of the Warroad Pioneer, one of three weeklies in Roseau County, on Minnesota’s northern border. Engler paraphrased New York Times reporter Richard Fausset: “He said he spent a week in Warroad, talking to locals about the paper closing. He admitted that most folks, outside of the Pioneer staff and their husbands, didn’t seem too broken up about it.”

Fausset disputed that, in an interview with me: “I talked to a lot of people who were very worried the newspaper was going to quit. What MPR reported does not accurately reflect what I found in the town. There are a number of people concerned about what happens next.”

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Tragedy cast a long shadow but did not define Miss Nancy

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

KOSCIUSKO — The morning of March 4, 2002 was innocuous enough. Those of us at The Star-Herald were going through motions not unlike what would happen on any given Monday at any other given weekly newspaper.

That meant attending meetings — the Board of Supervisors in my case, closing out the classified pages, and updating renewals for the week to ensure subscribers received the newspaper.

I was editor and publisher of the paper, nearing four years there over two different tours of duty.

Nancy Green, then 66, would have been working on her weekly “People & Events” feature that Monday morning. Nancy had been on the job for nearly 50 years. She started just out of school as a typesetter, but she spent the majority of her career as the lifestyles — or society — editor, chronicling the births, engagements, and everyday lives of Attala County residents.

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To say it’s been an interesting 27 months is an understatement

By Paul Keane

Keane, Paul
Paul Keane

WAYNESBORO — Man, 27 months can go by quickly, with plenty of things changing in the process.

Twenty-seven months ago, I wasn’t a grandfather. This past Mother’s Day weekend, our grandson turned 2.

Twenty-seven months ago, I was still in my rookie year of full-fledged newspaper ownership. Now, I have enough battle scars, bumps and bruises to take on the appearance of a life-long owner.

Twenty-seven months ago, I received the call from MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce that then-current MPA President Don Norman had announced his retirement from the newspaper business. That meant I was being elevated to MPA President roughly 15 months earlier than we had expected. To say it’s been an interesting 27 months would be a gross understatement.

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Four words for ad professionals: ‘Oh, yeah? Prove it’

By John Foust

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John Foust

I once encountered a car dealer who took advertising puffery to new levels. They publicized themselves as being number one in every conceivable category. Their general advertising theme was, “We’re number one.” Their new car slogan was, “We’re number one in new cars.” Their used car slogan was, “We’re number one in used cars.” Their service department’s slogan was, “We’re number one in service.” And of course, their logo featured their name inside a number one.

That approach must have simplified their advertising strategy meetings: “Let’s just tell everybody we’re number one in everything.”

I’m no legal expert, but I suspect that they could not have been prevented from using that exaggeration, because saying “we’re number one” is like saying “we’re the best.” It’s just too common to be taken as a serious deception.
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Gov. Bryant can stop ‘dark money’

From The Greenwood Commonwealth

Unless Gov. Phil Bryant exercises his veto power, Mississippi is about to take a huge step backward in letting voters know who is bankrolling whom in elections.

The Legislature has passed a measure, House Bill 1205, that will open the door to political payoffs that will be impossible to ferret out.

To understand the mischief of HB 1205, which the Republican majorities in both chambers pushed through the Legislature, one needs to understand how the current campaign finance laws in Mississippi work.

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Newspapers should connect with their communities, make them better

By Alexander Gould

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Alexander Gould

As I sat down, I was not sure what ideas and thoughts were going to be presented to me from the Ole Miss students who earlier in the semester as part of their campaigns class were challenged with an objective of improving how area businesses perceive us.

While each group approached the issue differently, it became very clear all had a common theme: We must improve our connection with our community.

Read that again — we must improve our connection with our community. I asked you to read it again so it really sinks in, because, like me, it was not what you expected to hear from this group of college age students, was it? I was waiting for someone to tell me, “you should be all digital,” “you need to invent a new app,” or “create more video,” but none of that was ever said.

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Is denying a defamatory accusation actionable as libel?

By John C. Henegan Sr.

Just another day at the office

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John C. Henegan Sr.

A reporter brings you a story about a matter of interest to the entire community. The story tells how local law enforcement personnel responded to a mass shooting at a local school that took place a week earlier, and the accusations of distraught parents. The parents claim that a deputy sheriff stated that some of the school children were wounded by friendly fire from an unidentified local police officer.

The reporter has asked the sheriff to respond. The sheriff, who led a coordinated attack against the shooter from a command vehicle with audio-contact with his deputies and local police, says that the parents are deeply upset, which is understandable, but they are wrong. Due to their emotional state at the time, they must have misunderstood the deputy.

Your paper has published similar stories from around the country. The adequacy of training received by first responders is a recurring issue. Are you going to run the story as is, and if not, what do you plan to do?

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