To the Editor:

On my mind for some time has been the problem of how small town and country news can be documented and disseminated in these days.

I have been doing research for family history for some years now and the local newspapers have been a valuable resource. I found that my father and mother went on a date in 1933 to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Because my mother died in 1941, I never got to ask her things about her past. Sometimes I found a hint as to where someone was living in a certain year that has us puzzled for a while. Or did the relative really die of appendicitis or kicked by a horse as we were told? How did they cope with no vaccines, no penicillin and no emergency service on the prairie or in the woods? What did our relatives think about the news of the day? Is another war coming?

They documented the cost of items, land and who worked in the Upstairs (a government sponsored work group) sewing clothes for the needy out of old clothes in the Depression. Or what was it like when the grasshoppers took over (ate the green spots off the curtains). Or what was it like for the farmer whose cattle were starving? There was no feed and so government officials made the decision to shoot the cattle and push them into a trench.

It seems to me only the small town newspapers can reliably document the local news of the day and what folks think about it in real time. Maybe it does not seem as momentous as some big city news but it is our news. And just who is going to speak for rural America in the future and how are they going to speak? I want local news in our newspapers. In articles I have read, the large newspapers try to cover rural areas so they send reporters out to the area for an afternoon and then write an article for the newspaper. It is called “parachute reporting” and of course they can only report what they were able to pick up in the afternoon while they were there.

Pine County is large and has several areas with distinct flavor and character and settlements. We have been so thankful for those that publish in our area. It is obvious from the newspapers that they care about our communities. We read every county newspaper and others when we can get them. We hope they can keep the local flavor and character of each community in our newspapers.  

                                                                                                                  Dorothy Jamison


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