When I was growing up, there were a lot of things I could count on: more than one Rounds brother to a bedroom, a prayer before meals and a local newspaper in the house.
I learned early on the local newspaper was not only a source of information, but also a source of income. One of my first jobs as a kid was delivering the Minneapolis Tribune. When I got my driver’s license, I began distributing papers to the other paperboys. That job required me to be up at 4 AM to meet the truck that would drop off the papers. Those were some early mornings and during the winter months I think I almost ruined dad’s Plymouth Station wagon driving through snow-packed roads and below zero temperatures with more than 500 pounds of newspapers. I’d always have one of my little brothers in the backseat helping put together the inserts so we could get done in time for 8:30 AM church. When I was in high school, I began working for the Capital Journal cleaning the presses with Derald Gross and delivering the afternoon edition of the paper to other paperboys in the area.
As a young paperboy, I didn’t fully understand the importance of the newspaper I was tossing on the front step, but I certainly do today. In our fast-paced, digitally-generated news world, there is something special about picking up a local newspaper – even if you get a little “newsprint” on your hands. It’s reassuring knowing you can trust the reporter because they are a neighbor or, in most cases, a friend. A newspaper is meant to be a source of unbiased information and local newspapers in South Dakota provide just that.
My office subscribes to local newspapers from across the state, and every time I get a chance, I take the opportunity to peruse them. You can learn so much from the local paper like who is getting married, who is having a birthday and who recently passed away. You can also keep up on the local sports teams and what is happening with various organizations in town. Sure you can see a lot of things on social media today, but let’s face it, most of us don’t have hours to scroll through and see all that is happening.
As an elected official, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of the local newspaper in effectively conveying a story. I’ve always done my best to fulfill requests from our South Dakota media because I know how important timely, reliable news is to the people of this state.
Unfortunately, across our nation, more and more towns are losing their newspaper leaving communities without a central gathering place for the news. Nationally, statistics show that more than one-fourth of local papers have shut their doors during the last 15 years. As someone who cares about the integrity of my news source, I would hate to see that trend continue. Thankfully, in South Dakota, our state continues to be served by over 120 newspapers which publish either daily or weekly.
As we celebrate National Newspaper Week, I want recognize and thank everyone working for our state’s local newspapers. From the editor to the advertising sales rep and the reporter to the delivery person, you all play a vital role in keeping our communities connected, vibrant and strong. And that’s something I know I can count on.