It didn’t use to be this way

Wire service

Once upon a time, which is about four years ago, when readers called to complain about content, it was the kind of thing a then new editor in Minot would expect. We made changes, added and deleted content and adopted an everyday policy of local editorials – occasionally hard-hitting editorials. In time, though, those complaints faded as readers got used to a new style from Minot Daily News.

These days, when readers call to complain about content, they are far more likely to cite national wire service material than stories crafted by my excellent veteran newsroom staff. The complaint: that national wire service reporting had adopted a similar tone to cable news and mainstream newspapers, which many readers see as biased.

Those many of you who have called and written me have a point with which I can’t really disagree. There is a problem with how national news is packaged by national/international wire services. Believe me when I say I am not the only editor who has noted the problem.

We are aware of the problem and looking for solutions to it. We are committed to providing a taste of national and international news through wire service content. However, there have been occasions when I have instructed my staff to run a national story in a prominent place only to then see late that night when we have gone to press or the next morning, that the story and it’s theme seem to have changed. Oh, there wasn’t necessarily new information to prompt the altering of the story – it was strictly the perspective of the writer or some combination of editors that changed, and usually to align with whatever talking heads on cable news are saying.

It didn’t use to be this way.

Without citing any specific entities or accusing anyone or any institution of bias, I did feel it necessary to respond to the many complaints with the message that we are seeking solutions and being more cautious now.

We’ll continue to bring you news, from local to international, free of bias or outside influence. Perspective and opinions should occupy the Opinion page, Not news pages. We are committed to that ideal.

Call to artists

It seems like we have been here before. Our weekly artist profile is once again in need of artists of all kinds to step forward for some fun and easy exposure. If you’re an artist, whether you’ve been previously featured and have new work to introduce to the community, or if you have yet to be featured, we are very interested in profiling you. The coverage has been well received by readers and the community-at-large and is a personal favorite around the newsroom. Please reach out to me directly if you are an artist or know an artist you feel should be featured, at 857-1959.

Thanks for supporting a good cause

Minot Daily News is a strong supporter of organizations that house the homeless and feed those in need. This year was no different as we supported the Mail Carriers’ Food Drive. The volunteers of The Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry asked us to thank the people of Minot and surrounding area for their support of the initiative this year. It was a successful one, truly doing good work, and a thanks to the Post Office for their efforts as well.

On ethics

Last week, an Associated Press article noted that I had applied to the new state’s ethics commission, which as of today, has no structure, no bylaws, no standards and not even an identifiable form or function. We’re one of the few states in the U.S. that doesn’t have one. It’s about time, even though we have generally trustworthy political officials whether we agree with them or not. I am proud of offering my service and think that an apolitical figure like me would be an asset to any such group. However, the quotes attributed to me were truncated and don’t represent my entire opinion – and on their surface might demonstrate a disrespect for the process.

On the contrary: I believe I would be an asset to the commission and I believe in such a commission and applaud North Dakota for forming one. Had my entire commentary been included, the following would have been included, in the best of my recollection: In my experience in media in markets 20 times the size of our ND population, the people who sit on ethics commissions aren’t the ones who should. They have a vested interest. I don’t. I belong to no political party or group; I do not personally endorse candidates; I do not donate money to any candidate in ND; I have never expressed a personal opinion in print on a party or candidate. I am neutral. I see facts and that alone influences an opinion.

Seems reasonable to me. Exactly who should sit on an ethics commission other than someone with no horse in the race, an open mind and who has no allegiance?

I apologize to Gov. Doug Burgum and the community if anyone felt I was being dismissive of the state’s effort. Personally – and I rarely assert a personal opinion – I think the commission is a great idea, common in most other states and I hope it adequately represents the public, whomever serves on it.

Good for North Dakota.