Minnesota newspapers decided to make a strong visual statement about what it would be like if the local newspaper did not exist. It was Whiteout Day during Minnesota Newspaper Week.
It’s no secret that that there are fewer local newspapers today than before in the United States. In some cases, towns that had two newspapers, only have one, or none. The ones that remain feel a threat of extinction.
In its State of the News Media Report 2016,, the Pew Research Center showed that weekday circulation “experienced a decline not seen since the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession. Average weekday circulation fell 7%, the most since 2010.”
What happens when a local newspaper disappears?
The Minnesota Newspaper Association sponsored what it called a Whiteout event last week in celebration of its 150th anniversary highlighting the importance of newspapers and the news and information they provide to their readers.
Steve Ammermann, publisher of the West Central Tribune, wrote a column to explain to readers his paper’s decision to be part of the Whiteout. Ammermann wrote that: “The West Central Tribune and other newspapers are the primary sources of local, regional and other news in our communities. Our newsrooms write the first draft of history by telling the stories of the people and our communities.”
Ask yourself these questions.
• Who are the people creating change in your community or who died recently?
• What would people in your town talk about today?
• Where are your town’s high school teams playing tomorrow or this week?
• When is the next government or important meeting in your community?
• Why should you care about that pending local issue being debated in your town?
• How would the uplifting or poignant feature story of someone in the community be shared or how much can you save at the latest sale at a local retailer?
Here is how the front pages of some of those Minnesota newspapers looked:
Rick Lubbers , editor of the Duluth News Tribune, wrote this in his column:
If our local newspapers disappeared, nothing would fill the void to provide the diversity of information, presented with independence, balance and context, on which you, the readers, rely.
From The Washington Post, Outlook section cover.
This two-day event, organized jointly by WAN-IFRA and the News Media Alliance (NMA), will provide a unique opportunity for North American news media executives to hear and discuss digital revenue strategy from the world’s most advanced media companies.
I will be one of the speakers for this conference in New York City.
I am honored to be on the jury for this WAN IFRA-sponsored competition.