Spoiler alert. There will be some whining in this Unorganized Territory. I’ll try to bring myself back around to positive thoughts at the end of this week’s column, but I really need to share a pet peeve. It’s because I’ve received a glut of political campaign press releases from all over the region, the state and the country—and it’s only the primary.
I’m guessing that faux news releases will really ramp up as we get into September and October. I wouldn’t mind these announcements if they actually contained real information on a candidate. But the majority of the “news” sent out by politicians is reports of alleged misbehavior by their opponents.
I’m somewhat used to that. I think we Americans know when a political ad is tweaked and comments are taken out of context and twisted. I am inclined not to vote for someone who uses that sort of campaign tactics. The advertisements and news I want to see from candidates is where they stand on issues.
I want to hear whether or not they have some sort of plan to resolve the flood of children across our southern border. I want to hear constructive suggestions on what can be done to fix the glitches in the Affordable Care Act and the devastating mishandling of veterans affairs. I want to know what my representatives are going to do to work with the other party—not how they are going to stonewall one another.
Unfortunately, we don’t get that sort of information. And the straw that broke the camel’s back this week was yet another ad sent out to a mailing list of Minnesota newspapers telling us about the upcoming campaign ad to be launched on television— and the millions of dollars spent on that campaign.
At least once a day I receive an email announcing, “Thanks to our generous supporters the Joe Candidate campaign is airing two TV advertisements during the primary season. The initial ad began airing across the 8th District on August 16.”
Or, an email decries the falsehoods in an opponent’s ad and asks for the print media’s help in setting the record straight.
So obviously, these political machines realize that newspapers are an effective way to reach voters. But for some reason they don’t want to spend any of the hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars they have raised in campaign funds to get their messages out in newspapers.
The decline of the newspaper is vastly overstated. Time and again the newspaper industry has surveyed its readers and advertisers and finds that people are reading and that newspapers are trusted sources for information. As recently as 2014, a study conducted for the Minnesota Newspaper Association by Scarborough queried Minnesotans. The survey found that 89 percent of Minnesotans had accessed a newspaper in print or in digital format in the past month. The net print readership was found to be 71 percent. Even more important was the reasons why people turn to newpapers. The survey found that newspapers were the most important resource for 56 percent of readers interested in local schools; for 50 percent of readers concerned about crime; 52 percent of readers looking for “things to do;” and 49 percent of readers wanting to learn about local government.
There are more reasons why people read their local newspaper and I wish these massive political campaigns realized that. I don’t know how candidates and campaign managers think newspapers will be able to stay afloat to help spread their message without their support. There is no trickle down economy when it comes to campaign financing.
Fortunately the story is quite different for our local politicians. Many of the folks running for township, Tribal government, city, county, school, hospital board, sheriff, or other elected seat, place ads in the Cook County News-Herald.
We truly appreciate it. Not only do we believe that we are one of the best methods to reach the people in the community who vote, the ads help us cover the cost of reporting on the election. Their hard-earned dollars stay in the community with us and help us keep the 123-year tradition of the Cook County News- Herald alive.
Their funding helps tide the local newspaper over for a bit after the election. It helps us cover those folks once they are elected and serving on the county board or the city council or a township board. They may not appreciate that we report comments made by an upset citizen or when we carefully monitor their actions to make sure they are not violating open meeting laws.
But these candidates support us anyway, with their campaign ads and by being cooperative and providing real answers to tough questions.
It takes a village to run a newspaper. We’re thankful to all of the loyal subscribers and advertisers who help us bring all the news to the community. We couldn’t do it without you.
Never argue with someone
who buys ink by the barrel.
Charles Bruce Brownson