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Death Of Another Newspaper

August 1, 2019

It is always most difficult to report on the closing of a newspaper.  Regardless of the  number of readers.

Whenever she thought her small staff would be facing a particularly stressful deadline day, Rebecca Colden, the publisher of the weekly Warroad Pioneer, declared a Bloody Mary Monday.

This was definitely one of those Mondays — indeed, the last of them. The Pioneer, the newspaper that had served this tiny town just below the Canadian border for 121 years, was one issue away from certain death.

With the distribution of its final issue on May 7, The Warroad Pioneer, which printed about 1,100 copies per week, joined roughly 2,000 newspapers that have closed in the United States over the last 15 years, according to a study by University of North Carolina researchers soberly titled “The Expanding News Desert.” Today in many American communities, the researchers noted, “there is simply not enough digital or print revenue to pay for the public service journalism that local newspapers have historically provided.”

Local papers matter, and here is one reason why.

In my mind I can still see Dad combing through the Waushara Argus, our local newspaper, to find the notices concerning local government. Having served on the Hancock Town Board for 44 years he always wanted to make sure the notices about an upcoming meeting or election were printed correctly, and the minutes of meetings along with the decisions taken to have visibility.

Why Dad flipped the pages of those papers was due to the fact he wanted to make sure the work of local government was published, and thereby publicized, so citizens could add their voice and input to the concerns of the day.  He also desired they be kept abreast of how local government functioned.  He knew informed citizens made for contented voters.

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