Editor’s Notebook: Holiday Flotsam & Jetsam

A few disparate observation and thoughts from the week leading up to Christmas…

So much for a slow news cycle

I’ve written a number of times before about slow news weeks and the challenge (and sometimes torture) they bring on the editorial department at Minot Daily News. I’ve also written about how there are some times of the year we anticipate slow news cycles – with mid-December through the first week of the new year being one of them.


The theme around the newsroom the past couple of weeks has been how much activity there has been upon which we have had to report. Usually, once the major holiday events wrap for the month around the 10th or so – for whatever reason – it’s a struggle for us the rest of December. This year felt a little different. News just kept coming at us. From unfortunate tax news, to a shooting, to a minor storm last week, the Ward County Jail’s good news, and the City of Minot moving to set right a controversial development deal, there was more public activity than usual the past few weeks. Between typical shenanigans from the jolly county commission to the announcement related to a downtown public gathering space just days ago with the City of Minot, this has been a far more news-heavy December than the previous two I have been here for.

There’s been quite a bit going on this month, for a change. Hopefully, my pronouncement that this is historically a slow news cycle didn’t prompt anyone to miss the important things that have been going on.

Really good news at the Ward County Jail

Minot Daily News covered last week the end of special monitoring of the Ward County Jail. State authorities determined that Sheriff Bob Barnard and Co. had made enough progress at the jail that fulltime babysitting from the state was unnecessary.

This is a notably good sign for the jail. Given its dismal record until last year, to reach this point so quickly is no small thing for Sheriff Barnard and his administrative and jail staff. This place bordered on gulag status a couple of years ago, and now the same jail is offering training courses to other jail personnel from other facilities. That is a 180 degree change – improvement – over the jail under its previous administration.

Hopefully, readers did not miss this announcement. It reflects well on the Sheriff’s Department and Minot overall.

The gift of engagement

A few months ago, I wrote about a speaking engagement I had in which I told my audience – mostly regular MDN readers – that the best thing they could do to secure a positive future for Minot and the nation – was to acquire a newspaper subscription for their children, grandchildren and other young relatives. The point I was making was in a world of social media propaganda, fake news from even institutions that once could be trusted, and the tendency for some people to cocoon in an environment where they only heard (faux) news that empowered their own positions, that engaging younger people with real news sources was the only hope for educated and engaged citizens of the future.

This is even more true today than a couple of months ago. Every day it seems, we witness another example of fake news dominating headlines and going little challenged. As of Christmas weekend, 2017, it has been almost a year since commentary took over for news and when fake news became the rule, not the exception. It will only get worse.

So, if you have reached this point, and are still looking for easy gifts for relatives, consider a subscription to the recipient’s local – note:local – newspaper. It’s a gift that gives every day of the year and promotes maturity, intellect and wisdom. As I did before, I am noting here that I am not shilling for MDN subscriptions specifically. I don’t care if your grandchild lives in Paris, Texas or Provo, Utah or anywhere else. Get them engaged. Nothing serious is on the line – nothing except the future of our representative republic, individual freedom and the values most North Dakotans value the most.

If the whole fake news thing confuses you still, as many callers have told me, then call me and I will help navigate the fake news landscape. I get those calls all the time and I am more than happy to help.


Finally, even if a day ahead of time, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas on behalf of Minot Daily News; and personally from me, for all of you who have made this transplant from the South feel so welcome and comfortable in my new hometown. In the lingo of my native South, Bless Your Hearts. Becoming part of this community, talking to you all every day of the week, and hearing your stories, is the blessing of my life and something I will never forget.