Mavis Fodness

Shelter in place leaves this reporter craving the 'old times'


Last week, with Gov. Walz’s order to shelter in place for two weeks, we at the Star Herald newsroom did some of our work from home to distance ourselves from others in the office while continuing the delivery of the community news.

     On Thursday, as I tested video conferencing from home (I found unmuting the keyboard is a must), I realized that I miss the “old school” philosophy of news gathering and delivery.

     As a child in the ’60s and ’70s, I recall my parents tuning into the radio at noon and the television at night for national and local news (although from South Dakota). Weekly we received the local paper in the mail.

     I long for the days of being blissfully ignorant of what was happening in the world until I invited the news in by turning on the radio or television or picking up the newspaper.

     Today, with social media, we are constantly bombarded with information — any and all news, whether reliable or not.

     With the coronavirus it appears everyone has taken to being a “mini-reporter” and sharing information as if they were professionals.

     Any thought, event or opinion is now dumped unfiltered on Facebook and/or Twitter where people read, share or comment as if the post is true to both sides of the issue and everyone should take it as the truth.

     I liken today’s social media consumption to self-medicating. In the end, what you took may have helped you feel better, but sometimes getting medication from the doctor is best.

     Getting your news from professionals who have taken time to balance and interpret what is happening is always the best source.

     Knowing minute by minute exactly what is occurring with the coronavirus is leading to increased anxiety levels and is overall negatively affecting our everyday lives.  Professional journalists are trained to sift through all the noise and hone in on the information that’s important to our readers on a local level in straightforward language a typical sixth-grader would understand. 

     When I entered the community journalism profession decades ago, businesses, organizations and people in the community would call or send in information they thought was newsworthy.

     We in the newsroom would explore the tip, and the idea would (or would not) warrant a story and ultimately make it to print.

     I wonder if we should return to “old time” journalism by passing on potential news stories to those who have made journalism their careers.

     Social media was never meant to be a news source. It was meant for socializing between friends and family who sometimes share links to legitimate news sites.

     Community newspapers are here to record the official and accurate news of their communities, as they have for the past 150 years and will continue to do long into the future.

     That’s what trained journalists are for, and a reliable news source is just what the doctor ordered.


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