Local news providers are often the most trustworthy

DISCLOSURE: Michael Sanborn has been involved in the news business in the Black Hills since 1979 and in the advertising business since 1988. He is currently furloughed due to COVID-19.

What a week. Charges against Gen. Michael Flynn were dropped by the Department of Justice. COVID-19 remains at the top of the news with President Donald Trump’s valet, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary and Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant all testing positive.

Unemployment, which just four months ago was at an all-time low, is now at an all-time high. A judge in Texas fined a beauty salon owner $7,000 and sentenced her to a week in jail for having the temerity to open her business during a COVID-19 shut-down. She claimed to need money to feed her children.

Two white Georgia men, a father and son, chased down an unarmed black man and shot him with a shotgun – three times at point-blank range, as someone else recorded a smart phone video of the incident.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ordered the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to take down their Covid-19 checkpoints on U.S. and State highways passing through their reservations. The Cheyenne River Tribe has refused to do so.

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden responded to Tara Reade’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago by declaring “this never happened.” Democrats, in a departure from their earlier “Me-Too” declarations, appear to not believe Reade, or not care about her claims, as they did about similar claims against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh not all that long ago.

Events affect us. Politicians affect our lives. What news organization can you trust to tell you the truth? What do they go through to get us the news we need?

Years ago, I was an editor at a different Black Hills daily newspaper. At the time, there were four copy editors, who graded the state, national and international news and prepared the pages for the press. Local news was prepared by the reporters, managing editor, news editor, features editor, sports editor and regional editor.

News grading took place daily in a “story conference” which included the editor, managing editor and copy editors. The copy desk editors would then assemble the entire paper for press, all before 11 a.m.

Consider the news events described above. Which story would get the “banner headline above the fold” if you were in control? Which would be reduced to a single-column headline? Which would get a second story (called a side-bar) to provide more depth inside the paper? Now, consider you only have room for so many headlines and stories, so one of the stories can’t go on page 1. Which do you move inside the paper, where it will be read by fewer people?

The producers of your daily newspaper and your favorite broadcasts at your local radio stations and television stations go through something akin to this daily.

Your local media are the ones who have published and broadcast public service announcements. They have provided important information about government, schools and businesses. They, and their employees, buy groceries locally. They buy gas, clothes and entertainment right here with you and from you. When you ask them for publicity for your local event, they give it.

As business owners begin to return to normal, I hope they consider what Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos have done for their businesses lately.

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