The quiet after the storm

As much fun and energy as the North Dakota State Fair brings to Minot for its run, the end of the big show inevitably is a bit of sudden quiet – for some, even a sign that the summer is winding down!

At Minot Daily News, there is quite a difference between fair week and the week after. During the fair, our phones barely ring, our email drops and our visitors are fewer, as everyone focuses on the fair. On one hand, it is a slow news cycle, about which I have expressed my agony several times. On the other hand, it is also a rare welcomed slow time for our News and Sports staffs. Most weeks in the year, we are running here and about on assignment with very little time to step out of our role and enjoy something taking place during the day. For NDSF assignments, I prefer my staff takes a little time to wander the fair, enjoy themselves and try to find a new or particularly compelling story. I think they did a good job of this, this year, and I like to think maybe they had a good time alongside their neighbors. I felt our stories were good and I appreciate that my staff gravitates toward student achievement.

So, with all the activities at the NDSF, how do we determine what makes for a story? Our formula might be a little different because I am graced with so many veteran Minot reporters on staff. We look for things that are very new, things that are very historic, those that involve kids, those that capture the zeitgeist of the day or manifest from innovation.

One thing that has surprised me is the lack of reader contributed photos evoking the feeling of the fair. It seems such a quintessential experience that capturing essential photos would be a fun and easy accomplishment. But with no replies, I imagine people are just engaged in having a good time.

On one hand, it will be nice to get back to a normal schedule come Monday. But on the other hand, NDSF is over and it’s a year until it returns, leading to an expected let-down. Thank goodness Hostfest and another handful of events are on the calendar ahead to continue celebration of our temperate weather time of year to take the edge off.

Summer isn’t quelling

all voter disapproval

While the summer seems to distract most people from important government issues, that is not the case when it comes to Ward County’s call for higher taxes in the coming year. Yeah, that hasn’t warmed many hearts. One issue that did draw comments from readers all week: county plans to increase the budget and minimize the impact. MDN readers have been all but calling for revolution for the typical county attitude toward increasing the budget – it’s a small increase, so people shouldn’t mind. Not a winning message.

Call-in courtesies

While our phones weren’t ringing off the hook last week, they did occasionally ring. Particularly rewarding are those calls from longtime readers who call just to tell us they love the paper – no callback requested, just really nice commentary. These are rewarding because it’s a sad human truth that people are more often motivated to call for negative reasons than positive ones. You might be surprised just how much it means to our MDN family to hear from pleasant readers… because it means a lot.

Some callers I get messages from lately have neglected to leave a return call number or mention of whether or not they want a call back or just want me to have the information included in the message. For best result, please front-load your message with your name, number, if you want a call back and it helps if you tell me a little something about the subject of your call. You’re probably calling about something in the paper, and it gives me a chance to look into your inquiry ahead of the return call so I can address it better.

Well, our quiet time has ended and we anticipate the city’s regular pace to resume. It was nice having time to clean off my desk, file things, catch up on correspondences and start the plan for our annual late summer-fall evolution of the paper. But we’ll still miss the fair for another year!