July flotsam and jetsam

This time of year always fosters a slow news period. As if competing with those who weekend at one of the regional lakes, we also have standard summer vacations, a massive slowdown in local sports and of course, the North Dakota State Fair – the original monster of the midway.

Fair fun

The NDSF, as I have written before, is always one of my favorite times of the year in Minot, even if my responsibilities don’t let me spend as much time there as I would like. It still prompts so much excitement around town and attracts so many people here, it’s great for Minot. This year, as every year, our plan for covering the fair revolves around helping people access events and trying to draw attention to some of the fair’s aspects. You will notice that every morning, we feature a Best Bets preview on the cover of the paper, which is our staff’s pick of some of the exciting events of the day. Generally, we also offer a story or photo essay from the previous day’s fair as inspiration to attend and to help you remember your own experiences. If you watch carefully, you will see the diversity of perspectives from your Minot Daily News staff. Meanwhile our Sports staff tries to follow as many of the competitive events as possible. My first year in Minot, planning fair coverage was intimidating. In subsequent years, I have relied more and more on my amazing staff’s knowledge and experience to plan coverage. That turned out to be a good idea and I hope readers enjoy our quest for fun stories to share.

Make sure to prepare for the conditions out at the fair. Typically fair days are no fair, as in hot and humid. Particularly if you have kids, think sunscreen, hats, lots of water and occasional shade.

Of course, one of the best parts of the fair is that it distracts all of us from the childish and ugly world of national politics, at least for a few days.

Photo contest!

Speaking of “I hope readers enjoy our quest for fun stories to share,” let’s have a photo contest! Decades ago, I read an article in a magazine (The New Yorker, New York, The Atlantic…?) about a (very good) writer spending time at the Iowa State Fair throughout the entire famed event. It was Americana, it reflected both its time and the changes in time, found the deeply touching aspects, the quintessential and the somehow pensive. It cemented my state fair fondness and was possibly the best magazine story I’ve ever read. If you ever come across it, hold onto it for me! Photography was a big part of it and some of the images in it are still carved in my memory. Some aspect of them said “state fair” so clearly that it amounted to amazing photography. There were rides and workers and animals and food and kids – lots of kids.

If you think about it while you are the fair and see such a potential image, snap a photo on your phone and send it to me with your info at msasser@minotdailynews.com.

Send me something good and I will run it on page 1.

Best wishes

A longtime, well-respected journalist in the region is experiencing some health challenges. We certainly are not going to name him, but he is a friend to our staff and a really good guy. All signs point to a full recovery. But as a staff, we would feel remiss not to wish him a full and speedy recovery and hope that we see him soon. North Dakota is lucky to have so many good and dedicated journalists in papers of all sizes and in all parts of our great state. Be well!

Format change

Going into another year of Editor’s Notebook, I am switching up the format a little. I’ve been focusing on the behind the scenes operations of the newspaper, explanations and responses to perceptions and misperceptions is. The things is, that inevitably leads to repetition.

While I will continue to offer an “Inside Baseball” look at our newsroom and business overall, this column will more resemble the monthly Flotsam and Jetsam edition – more topics, large and small, observation, the occasional pun. No, it will not be a local opinion column or wander into the area of Our Opinion. Oh, it might have an opinion. On a Minot street that’s particularly pretty at dusk; on my favorite new book; a new exhibit or show I particularly liked, etc. It will be a lot more “notebook,” and I hope you like it. Let me know what you think. I know you will!