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Column: Journalism is under attack, but what's new?

"Editing a paper is a nice business," Charles K. Blandin once wrote. He was being sarcastic.

Still, he believed in the free press and made it his life, leading both small weeklies and a successful metropolitan daily. The son of a Wisconsin farmer, he also was a teacher at one point and eventually a paper company magnate who took his earnings and created the Blandin Foundation based in Grand Rapids, Minn., so his company would contribute to "the community advantage" long after his death in 1958.

This is National Newspaper Week. I can't help but think about Blandin, whose goal of perpetuating the betterment of rural communities continues through our work at RiverTown Multimedia properties. That is because some of our staff members through the years have benefited (and I hope our readers have, too) through a community editor/publisher training program created at the Blandin Foundation.

Like Blandin, we have both Minnesota and Wisconsin roots. And since this year the Wisconsin Newspaper Association spearheaded the 2018 National Newspaper Week campaign, we join in public declaration that journalism matters today more than ever. We do feel at times that we're under attack, but that only makes us more committed to telling the stories of our communities — your stories.

Here's the rest of Blandin's quotation about our "nice" business. Clearly, he felt the pressure at times:

"If we publish original matter, they say we don't give them enough selections; if we don't, we are lazy.

"If we 'puff' a man, we are partial. If we compliment the ladies, the men are jealous; if we don't, we are publishing a paper not fit to make a bustle of.

"If we remain in our office, we are too proud to mingle with the 'common herd'; if we're on the streets, we are not attending to our business.

"If we don't go to church, we are heathens, and if we go, we are hypocrites."

I wonder if today he might add something like this: "If we criticize elected leaders, we are the enemy of the people; if we don't, we're in league with the devils."

He believed strongly in community and the vital role of community journalism. So do we — during National Newspaper Week and the other 51 weeks of the year.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson is news director with RiverTown Multimedia. 

(651) 301-7870
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