When I was a kid growing up, I was a paperboy who delivered the Minneapolis Star Tribune to homes around Pierre. Today, news is delivered a little differently than it was back then. While some still receive printed papers in their mailbox or on their front step, many have turned to getting their news online.
But some things never change. In South Dakota, our local newspapers remain at the center of our communities. Each issue of one of South Dakota’s 120 daily and weekly newspapers is packed with what’s most important to their readers – the things happening locally. They report on what’s happening at city hall and the courthouse, how the high school sports teams are doing, the new business that’s coming to town and don’t forget the birthdays and obituaries. While it’s great to get news online, nothing beats local papers. It’s so important to subscribe to your local newspaper. My office subscribes to newspapers across the state and we read them. But it’s not just subscriptions that pay the bills. No newspaper can survive without advertising support from local community businesses.
This year, we lost one of the great papers in South Dakota. When subscribers received The De Smet News and the Lake Preston Times (Jean’s hometown paper) on April 1 it was no joke. Sprawled across the top in large letters read the headline: “This Is It.” The end, as owner and publisher Dale Blegen would describe, comes after nearly 140 years of serving the communities of De Smet and Lake Preston. The paper was founded in 1880, less than a year after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family made their way to De Smet. The closing of the paper left a giant hole in the community that would be tough to fill.
But, as they say, the show must go on. Less than two months later, a group of community members decided the vacancy left behind needed to be filled. They had very little journalism training or experience, but that wouldn’t stop them from making sure the stories of their community still lived on forever in print. Together, they founded the Kingsbury Journal, a weekly publication to serve the entire county. Each week, they bring the news of the day to their community and provide a valuable service to keep the spirit of the community alive.
As we enter National Newspaper Week, we thank all those who help deliver the news to cities and towns across South Dakota. Whether you’re the editor, an advertising salesperson, a reporter, publisher or delivery person, you each play an important role in making sure your readers stay informed and that our communities remain vibrant and strong.