Readers and… not readers

And the point is proven…

A week ago, Minot Daily News published an editorial imploring President Trump to end his war of words with the media. The editorial went to press several days after hundreds of papers around the country had organized to print similar editorials. MDN opted to publish late, frankly, because we did not want to be part of that national effort organized by the Boston Globe and because our perspective as a community newspaper in the upper Midwest is simply different than that of the major market media that covers national issues. We did not want to be lumped in with an effort that had the odor of being barely disguised criticism of the president.

Still, the editorial set off a firestorm of online comment, which just so happened to prove one or more of the major points we’d set about to make. From the comments, it was obvious that few who chose to comment had actually read the editorial and/or understood it; the internet remains the primary source of actual “fake news”; and that people’s opinions on the topic are so buffered that some are simply beyond rational discussion. Both criticism of and praise for the editorial often missed the point, missed the very essence of the editorial as published. Setting aside the usual trolls, many commenters simply used the occasion of the editorial to pick up the ongoing national debate/argument about the mainstream media and its contentious relationship with this administration. Those who commented on the actual points made in the MDN editorial were few and far between. Hopefully this means that the majority of readers who did not comment read and understood our thoughtful perspective and recognized that it was not the same in theme or tone as that of many other papers from the previous few days. Many of the comments made online themselves qualified as “fake news,” proving a point made in the MDN editorial.

It’s a shame so many seem to have missed the many points presented.

So, click bait is better?

On Friday, MDN published a story about a parent’s displeasure with a local school policy in the aftermath of an alleged playground threat incident that took place last school year. There was an alleged racial element to the original story, but again, that incident and our initial story were many months ago. The immediate story was about the school district’s means of addressing the incident. We published the story with an appropriate headline.

Strangely, most online criticism wasn’t about the incident or the story itself. Instead, criticism revolved around the fact that we did not assign a more exploitative headline that played up the alleged racial nature of the initial incident.

Ironically, the only time we hear about headlines typically is when some readers think we are being too cavalier or graphic. This might be the first time we’ve heard that some prefer click bait headlines that feed into narratives instead of facts. Perhaps commenters didn’t realize that this was what they were calling for, but essentially, it was. A headline accentuating the incident and alleged racial overtones would have referred to a story already published earlier this year. It wasn’t the news this week. The actual headline reflected the actual story. Furthermore, using children to fan the flames of racial discord is of dubious ethics.

New stuff ahead…

Last week, MDN also announced our 1st Annual Minot Daily News Senior Expo, coming Sept. 6 to our friend and host sponsor Sleep Inn & Suites. The free, but ticketed event, consists of an entire day of speakers, presenters and resources on numerous topics of important to seniors – from health and quality of life issues to scams that target seniors. There will be plenty of information and resources available, and morning refreshments and a lunch will be served. We’re very pleased to bring this expo to the community and anticipate it will become an annual event. MDN is aware of the importance of the subject matter because we receive many calls from seniors asking us questions about the topics included in the expo. We’ve elected to bring experts together with seniors to discuss these issues. There will be raffles in a comfortable environment and all one needs to attend is a ticket. Tickets are limited to about 400 and are available at the Minot Daily News office week days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Just drop by and secure your tickets (limit four to an individual) early to secure your position at the inaugural event!

The Expo isn’t the only thing new on the horizon. This is the time of year we regularly make some changes to the newspaper and once again, we are preparing to add a couple of new facets. I will share more when we have launch dates, but we are pretty confident they will enhance your enjoyment of the newspaper.

We are also preparing to launch new magazine products and enhanced versions of our existing magazines. These projects are particularly exciting for us.

A great time of year

Sure, the weather is pleasant and there are still ample outdoors days ahead of us even as we begin to sense the arrival of Hostfest and then the holidays. Here at Minot Daily News, it is more like our spring. We enjoy this time of year because for the third consecutive year, it is the time for change and renewal. Creativity abounds, ideas are solicited, possibilities examined and we get to try new things. Readers let us know what they think. It’s fun, it’s interactive and it’s empowering. I hope you will enjoy our season of renewal as much as we do, and I remind you to feel free to let me know how you think we’re doing.