Viewpoint: Editorials about newspapers were out of touchI realize Fargo is not in Minnesota, but it's not exactly in China, either. So it seems that Mr. William Marcil, publisher and CEO of Forum Communications... should not be this out of touch with his “empire.”
By: Carol Turnbull, Viewpoint Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
I realize Fargo is not in Minnesota, but it's not exactly in China, either. So it seems that Mr. William Marcil, publisher and CEO of Forum Communications (based in Fargo, N.D. and which owns the Woodbury Bulletin along with two dozen other Minnesota newspapers, plus papers in the Dakotas and Wisconsin), should not be this out of touch with his “empire.”
One week he writes (Viewpoint, April 29 Bulletin): “Who said newspapers are dinosaurs, extinct, obsolete? I don’t think so. Newspapers ... have more readers today than ever.... Many so-called experts who say newspapers are dying forget the important role we play in society each day…” — and then the very next week he closes two of his local papers, the Stillwater Courier and Lake Elmo Leader.
His Viewpoint, incredibly, was followed by another from the local publisher of the Bulletin and the papers that are now closed, saying things like “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
This all seems a bit like a stick-in-the-eye to me.
It was interesting that both writers bragged so much about their papers’ websites. Most of us, of course, go to the Internet for on-the-spot news coverage. Nobody wants to wait a day (or a week) to get a breaking story.
But how long do they think their websites would survive if there were no printed copies?
If we continue to allow our local papers to close their doors, we're making a grave mistake.
Former-Gov. Arne Carlson recently gave a speech in which he listed some reasons we as a society should be concerned about newspapers’ demise, saying we are losing the most balanced news outlets we have at a time when we need them most. He felt so strongly that he suggested government assistance for struggling publishers.
Here’s my personal, more prosaic list why print newspapers (and news magazines) can never be replaced by the Internet: You can't curl up in comfort in an easy chair with a cup of tea, or a cat on your lap — and a large object made of plastic and metal. You can't tuck a computer under your arm and whip it out to read an article when you find yourself with a minute or two — like at the doctor's office. You certainly can’t (or shouldn’t) shine your shoes on a computer, or use it to line the birdcage.
If you want to save an article or obituary you can, of course, print it off the internet (given an available printer/paper, which doesn't jam) — but that seems like a bit of work when a pair of scissors would do. Computers crash, and eat things. They’re quite wonderful, of course, but I wouldn’t turn my back on them.
Newspapers, on the other hand, are always waiting when you finally get around to them.
If newspapers are suffering for want of advertising dollars, maybe that’s our fault. Maybe we ought to not only subscribe to our local paper, but also let our merchants know that we appreciate seeing their ads in it. Clip those coupons that come with the printed copy rather than getting them online. And, of course, take some time to actually read, rather than just processing information flying across our line of sight.
If we weren’t in too much of a hurry to read, absorb and think, print media would survive and thrive.
Carol Turnbull is a resident of Woodbury.