Buoyed by a bevy of national sponsors and myriad partners in the form of national media outlets – including Crookston Daily Times owner Gatehouse Media – an organization known as the News Media Alliance set aside Wednesday, Feb. 7 as a day for legitimate news organizations across the country to shine a spotlight on the “real news” they report every day.
Here at the Times, we ran a big ad in our print edition that day that depicted what appeared to be a photojournalist in a war zone under the big, bold words, “We are Real News.” At the suggestion of the News Media Alliance, we also published at crookstontimes.com and on our Facebook and Twitter pages that day bright red graphics that indicated we are a source of “Real News” that readers can trust.
We don’t exactly report from war zones here in Crookston – although city council meetings are mini-battle grounds from time to time – but we do publish nothing but real news in every edition. On the rare occasion when we make a mistake and are called out on it, we correct it. One would hope the vast majority of our readers trust us as a source for real news and that’s why they read the Times, but at the same time there are a whole lot of Crookston residents who don’t read the Times.
Who would ever have thought it would come to this, a small newspaper and not some slanted national cable TV news channel or other massive media outlets with their own political agendas, feeling compelled to remind the reading public that it publishes real news. As in, not “fake” news.
You have to hand it to President Trump. When he says his intentionally distracting things every day, leaving the national media in a daily frazzled frenzy to keep up while the real news that people really need to know goes under-reported, he’s winning. Just like he said he would. So when he decided to label news that was unfriendly to him “fake news” and the phrase almost immediately became part of the national and international lexicon, it was another Trump triumph. When obviously real news providers are urged or otherwise compelled to remind the public that they are real news providers...well, it’s kind of depressing.
Frustrating, too, especially when you report relevant, timely and factual news in every edition of your newspaper that’s not seen by enough people. There it was just last week, someone posting a video on Facebook of a road grader pushing snow up a residential street in a random city. When it came upon the end of a driveway, a gate came down, preventing a big snow drift from being deposited and blocking the end of the driveway. “We need one of these in Crookston!” the Facebook poster wrote in her status update.
Dating back to last summer when it was first discussed, the Times has featured three stories about the very same gate that’s been purchased and attached this winter to one of the City’s road graders. A few weeks ago, a photo of the grader and the new gate and a story detailing how it works and how it’s performing took up much of the front page.
Real news, read by not enough people.
There’s hope, of course. In response to the Facebook post, several people noted that the City of Crookston recently bought the gate for one of its graders. One reader even made our day here at the Times when she posted a link to our latest story on the new gate.
Ah, yes...hope. Hope that, even though we may be on the short end of the battle at the moment, the war is still up for grabs.