It's newspaper week — here's why we should care ...

Star Herald Editorial

This week is National Fire Prevention week, National Domestic Violence Awareness Week and Homecoming Week in Luverne and H-BC schools, in addition to Pork Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and other important observances.

Amid all these causes vying for ink in the Star Herald is National Newspaper Week, which typically gets little mention, because news organizations typically aren’t the subject of news.

But this week we pause to remind you, our readers, why we should all care about the value of local news and how the Star Herald contributes to our community health.

So here are some facts to consider:


Newspapers are more than a medium

Paper and ink is increasingly replaced by online news delivered by cell phone and computer.

What can’t be replaced, however, is the primary function that newspapers have traditionally performed: Sending trained reporters to cover everything from natural disasters to city council decisions to a community band festival.

They’re paid to get the news, check the facts with legitimate sources and correct inaccuracies if they make it into print.

This takes an investment of real resources, even if the stories aren’t printed with ink on paper.


You never paid for news

The dollar and change you plunk on the counter for a newspaper doesn’t came close to covering what it costs to produce news.

The high cost of public service journalism has always been subsidized by advertisers, but the Internet has driven down newspaper advertising revenue to levels that are less than one-third of what they were in 2005, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

The result is all too predictable: Newspapers employ fewer than half the number of people today that they did at the beginning of this century, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Social media does not equal news. And it’s not free.

Readers might not notice the hollowing out of newsrooms because today, we have, if anything, too much information at our disposal. 

The same digital revolution that blew a hole in newsroom budgets and turned Craigslist and eBay into advertising behemoths also created new paths to publication.

According to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center, more Americans now get their news from social media than from newspapers.

The price we pay for this seemingly free news is sacrificing our personal data every time we log on. … and, we have to ask, what are we getting in return?

Chances are, if we’re not discerning news consumers, we’re getting a barrage of “news-like” content that amounts to peddlers of propaganda, disinformation and dissension.


What can we do about it?

For starters we need to become more mindful about our information diet.

According to the Minnesota Newspaper Association, a lot of us are living on nutrition-free “news” that might satisfy our biases but it’s not the balanced diet we need in order to be informed citizens to participate in democracies.

Here are some ways MNA suggests we can recognize real news:

•Do they sometimes make you a bit uncomfortable by raising doubts about what you thought to be true?

•Do they make it easy for you to reach a real human being if you have a question or a complaint?

•Do they correct mistakes? Do they ask you to subscribe? Because gathering facts costs.

For Newspaper Week this week, we at the Star Herald are grateful for your readership, and we encourage you to enrich your information diet with other trusted news sources.

An investment in a free press supports our American democracy and is therefore worth the cost of a subscription.


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