This, that, the other thing – and social media

The only negative aspect of cutting this column down to monthly is that sometimes there are things I want to address directly with readers and I have to hold it until I come up in my own column rotation. Thankfully, some important things I wanted to share with readers have been recent, so it’s nice to be back with you and share the following…

Ups and downs of social media

Another example of the ups and downs of social media and those who view it as a source of actual news… Last week, the staff of Minot Daily News, in a truly energetic effort, attempted to track down information about the accident at the construction site of the new Trinity complex involving a steel worker who had fallen and been taken to the hospital. Several of us worked various angles because there was no official information released, which was frustrating to be honest, but which also turned out to be reasonable (keep reading).

Rumors, which today means social media postings and the way they spread like wildfire, had one rather tragic description of the incident. Horrible descriptions. It wasn’t a murmur of gossip. It was everywhere. MDN staff members in all departments were talking about a horrible tragedy, dozens of people called in about it and… well, there is the social media aspect of it. Everywhere. By mid-morning Monday, gossip, much of it internet driven, asserted this victim was dead.

Instead, the accident victim – who in communications with MDN after we determined his identity independently and who comes across as a fine young man – was released from the hospital and able to e-talk with my staff.

That’s a far cry from what rumors had about the situation. This isn’t a criticism – it’s part of the new media dynamic and MDN heard many of the same rumors from within our own building. Of course, we didn’t report any of this. No one in position of knowledge was commenting and there were no eyewitnesses talking. It was all… at least one step removed. Remember the game ‘telephone’? Even when someone has accurate information, it tends to morph when passed on. Without hard information, we had nothing about which to report. It isn’t our way. As I’ve written before, some of our work is to dispell fake news from social media or to try to explain things that are broadly misinterpeted, often as a result of social media.

Here’s the reason social media has its ups and downs. On one hand, it was utilized by people to disseminate inaccurate information, which briefly convinced MDN this was a major story and cost my staff hours of time tracking down. Yet social media was also a help in MDN identifying and communicating with the young man.

Bad? Good? Social media offers potential for both.

Just something to think about.

For those concerned, the injured young man thanks the people in the community for their prayers and well wishes, and we certainly wish him the best.

Promises fulfilled…

Those of you who read this column regularly know this is where I announce changes coming to the paper in advance. Well, for 2019, away…we…go…

If you’ve paid attention, a couple of weeks ago, we launched an advertorial cover of the Food section spotlighting Minot’s Elevation. The section is actually one of my personal projects and – if you’ve met me personally, and I hope you have – you know it’s something I enjoy! Reactions have been great and we want to do more. If you’re interested in similar exposure for your restaurant, contact MDN interim publisher, Jim Hart, at jhart@minotdailynews.com.

Meanwhile, also related to the Food section, we continue to ask readers to share their personal recipes for publication; and we hope to launch a column on restaurant news soon if there is interest. Stay tuned for details. Ideas? Email me at msasser@minotdailynews.com.

Two new features are coming in the weeks ahead. You might notice we aren’t publishing Fire Calls daily anymore. Hey, there was little information to offer as we ran Fire Calls anymore. Instead, through an exclusive agreement with the Minot Fire Dept., beginning April 8 on page A2 of the Monday MDN, we will provide Fire and Rescue calls from the department from the prior week, in addition to notes and an occasional column from Minot Fire. We’re thrilled to be able to offer this new feature and happy to work with Minot’s exceptional fire department to bring more information, direct communication and a better report on the work our excellent department does on a daily basis.

Also beginning next Sunday, lifestyle/food writer Charles Repnow will return to the pages of MDN. Every other week, our friend Chuck will anchor the Sunday Etc. section with his stories and recipes. A warm and engaging writer and friend to the paper, we’re thrilled to reunite with Chuck and share his unique voice.

More evolution in the near future. Until then…

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