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Volume 24 – Number 3

An information publication of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, Brookings, SD

November/December 2010

Legislators, publishers look ahead to 2011 session Editor’s note: Reprinted with permission from the Dec. 6, 2010, edition of the Watertown Public Opinion. by Terry O’Keefe Public Opinion Staff Writer

A group of area state lawmakers met newspaper representatives from around northeast South Dakota on Dec. 3 to get to know each other and take a quick look toward the next legislative session. The group gathered in a casual fashion at the Public Opinion offices in Watertown and included incoming legislators Sen. Ried Holien (R-Watertown), Rep. Bert Tulson (R-Lake Norden) and former House member and newly-elected Sen. Tim Begalka (R-Clear Lake). They were joined by District 4 Rep. Steve Street (D-Revillo), District 6 Rep. Art Fryslie (R-Willow Lake) and District 1 Sen. Jason Frerichs (R-Wilmot). South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) General Manager Dave Bordewyk of Brookings led the newspaper group along with P.O. Publisher Mark Roby, P.O. Managing Editor Rick Hoover, Clark County Courier Publisher Bill Krikac, Sisseton Courier Publisher Harley Deutsch and RFD Group Publisher Chris Schumacher, in a discussion that often focused on media concerns over openness in government and public dissemination of government business. Bordewyk told legislators SDNA is taking part in a series of similar meetings around the state ahead of the start of the 2011 legislative session next month in Pierre. “It’s a chance to refresh ourselves on some of the issues,” he said. Bordewyk told the lawmakers openness in government is something important to everyone in the state and steps have been taken to increase the transparency of South Dakota government. “It’s something we in the news media run

A group of legislators and SDNA members met Dec. 3 at the Watertown Public Opinion to discuss the upcoming legislative session. Seated from left are: Rep.-elect Bert Tulson of Lake Norden, SDNA General Manager David Bordewyk, Sisseton Courier Publisher Harley Deutsch, Sen.-elect Ried Holien of Watertown, Sen.-elect Tim Begalka of Clear Lake, RFD Group Publisher Chris Schumacher of Volga, Rep. Steve Street of Revillo, Clark County Courier Publisher Bill Krikac and Sen.-elect Jason Frerichs of Wilmot.

into a little bit more (than others),” he said. “But we have made some progress in recent years, working with the Legislature to help open government and getting information out.” Bordewyk said a problem in government openness has recently developed as some school districts have considered having certain boards and committees appointed by the district superintendent, rather than by the school board. That effectively means the names of those appointed to those bodies can remain secret and their meetings held without public notice, he said. “One problem that has developed has been something of an end-around by some school districts to (do that) and it can be kept secret,” Bordewyk said. “It skips around open meeting laws. “We will be working to have that adjusted

Newspaper Day is Jan. 27 South Dakota newspaper publishers, editors and reporters will gather in Pierre on Jan. 27 for the annual Newspaper Day at the Legislature event. Newspaper Day in Pierre is an opportunity for SDNA members to have lunch with legislators and participate in a series of press conferences with state government officials that day. “The 2011 legislative session will be interesting. A new governor. New legislators. New legislative leaders,” said SDNA General Manager David Bordewyk. “Yet with all the new faces and new ideas coming in, some of the issues and challenges are unchanged: the budget, education funding, just to name two.” At this time the schedule for Newspaper Day in Pierre is not complete. The luncheon with legislators will be from noon to 1 p.m. at the Ramkota River Centre. Bordewyk said he hopes to have press conferences scheduled with new Gov. Dennis Daugaard and legislative leaders, but those events are not confirmed yet. Bordewyk encouraged SDNA members to plan to attend. “Legislators always greatly appreciate it when they can visit in Pierre with people from their respective districts. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on what constituents are thinking and for SDNA members to convey their thoughts on various legislation to their legislators,” Bordewyk said.

Continued on page 3

Readership steady for community newspapers ■NNA’s survey reflects strong numbers on reach of local papers Communities served by community newspapers continue to demonstrate heavy reliance upon their local papers for news and information. In a nationwide survey, 73 percent say they read a local newspaper at least once a week. Readers also say they read most or all of their community newspapers (78 percent), and of those going online for local news, 55 percent found it on the local newspaper’s website, compared to 17 percent for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google, and 26 percent for the website of a local TV station. The results are reported by the National Newspaper Association, which has just completed its fifth readership survey on the patterns of community newspaper readers. Working with the research arm

of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, NNA tests reactions of people living in smaller communities served by local newspapers. Since 2005, NNA has done research on how people read and what they think about their local newspapers. Results have been fairly consistent over the years, though the surveys have focused more tightly on small communities during the five years. For the 2010 survey, readership for towns with newspapers that have circulations of 8,000 or less were sampled. The community size has not significantly affected outcomes. The surveys show that community newspapers have remained popular. The early data indicate that the positive findings are consistent with the earlier surveys:

•73 percent of those surveyed read a local newspaper each week. •Those readers, on average, share their paper with 3.34 persons. •They spend about 37.5 minutes reading their local newspapers. •78 percent read most or all of their community newspapers. •41 percent keep their community newspapers six or more days (shelf life). •62 percent of readers read local news very often in their community newspapers, while 54 percent say they never read local news online (only 9 percent say they read local news very often online). •39 percent of those surveyed read local education (school) news very often in their newspapers, while 67 percent never read local education news online.

•30 percent read local sports news very often in their newspapers, while 67 percent never read local sports online. •35 percent read editorials or letters to the editor very often in their newspapers, while 74 percent (nearly three quarters) never read editorials or letters to the editor online. The 2010 NNA survey was based on 670 telephone interviews completed with residents that lived in areas where the local newspapers had a circulation of 8,000 or less in the United States in August and October 2010. Established in 1885, NNA is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newpaper association in the country. The nation’s community newspapers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.


2 • November/December 2010

South Dakota Newspapers

Near death experience may be only hope for rebirth ■Denial of postal rate increase may be cathartic by Steve Andrist Publisher, Journal Publishing, Crosby, N.D. Region 6 Director, National Newspaper Association

We were sitting around a table in a hotel meeting room in Omaha, eyes glazed over from endless talk about budget and marketing and personnel management. There were community newspaper publishers from Minnesota to Massachusetts, Tennessee to Alabama, California to Oregon and a halfdozen places in between. A couple of cups of coffee weren’t sufficiently counteracting the affects of a long, sedentary morning glued to an office chair. What coffee couldn’t do, Carol Pearce did in two words. “We won!” she exclaimed, looking up from her internet-connected computer and thrusting her arms into the air as if her team had just scored the game-winning touchdown. For Pearce, a National Newspaper Association staffer, and a couple dozen

community newspaper publishers whose eyes quickly turned from glaze to praise, it was a big win in a big game. The Postal Regulatory Commission had just voted, unanimously, to Steve Andrist deny a Postal Service request for huge postage rate increases. A different result likely would have meant readers would end up paying 10 percent more for their community newspapers. While first class postage would have increased 4.5 percent under the rate proposal, the cost of mailing newspapers would have gone up in the neighborhood of 10 percent. That’s why the Postal Service had publishers shaking in their boots. During this granddaddy of national economic downturns, no one in the business world is getting by with 10 percent rate increases. They shouldn’t. Especially if, like the Postal Service, they have employed myopic management. To be sure, the Postal Service

has suffered huge losses, $3.5 billion in the last quarter alone. In the next decade, USPS projects its cumulative losses will top $238 billion. The amount is staggering. It also is predictable. To anyone who paid a bill online, sent an e-card at Christmas, signed a CaringBridge site instead of sending a card, or sent a text message rather than a letter, a drop in mail volume is pretty obvious. In fact, mail volume in the United States has dropped 20 percent since 2007. How has the Postal Service responded? Last year its costs increased by 6 percent. Even a high school accounting student understands that increasing costs and decreasing sales is a recipe for disaster. The USPS has cut some jobs and closed some facilities, but for the most part its response has been to raise prices and cut services. The result surely will be to drive even more customers away. Meanwhile, it maintains a wage and benefits package that is second to none. The average postal worker makes roughly $83,000 a year in wages and benefits. That’s about 14 percent higher than the average for other federal workers, and it’s a whopping 50 percent more than the average private sector worker.

While most federal workers pay 28 percent of their health insurance costs, postal workers average just 13 percent. On top of that, the Postal Service pays 100 percent of life insurance premiums for many of its employees. Back at the high school accounting class, it’s a pretty sure bet that most students would take a cursory glance and conclude that getting labor costs under control is the only way to begin whittling away at those multi-billion dollar losses. Yet the Postal Workers Union still advocates for higher wages and benefits, and no one, from the union-sympahtizing postmaster general to the Congress to the White House, is forcing its hand. Despite the mass exodus of customers to electronic forms of communication, we still need mail delivery, in some form, in this country. If no one is willing to take on the union, perhaps opening mail delivery to competition is the answer. Look how much better USPS got with parcel delivery, for example, when UPS and FedEx entered the game. The recent rate hike denial, coupled with Congress’ denial of a cash infusion, may force a postal crisis so severe that drastic change is the only remaining option.

NEWSPAPERS (USPS Permit #003537) © Copyright 2010 By South Dakota Newspaper Association David C. Bordewyk ....... Publisher/Editor Sandy DeBeer .............. Pagination

Published bi-monthly by South Dakota Newspaper Association, 1125 32nd Ave., Brookings, SD 57006, and at additional office Telephone: 800-658-3697 Periodicals Class Postage paid at Brookings, SD 57006 Subscription price: $15 per year. SDNA Officers President Doug Card / The Britton Journal First Vice President Lucy Halverson / Lyman County Herald, Presho Second Vice President Charley Najacht / Custer County Chronicle Third Vice President Steve Baker / Capital Journal, Pierre Past President Hollie Stalder / Lawrence County Journal, Deadwood Board Members Paul Buum / The Alcester Union & Hudsonite Jon Hunter / Daily Leader, Madison

SDNA Staff David C. Bordewyk / General Manager Cherie Jensen / Assistant Manager John Brooks / Advertising Sales Manager Sandy DeBeer Advertising Assistant Cheryl Busch / Advertising Assistant Darla McCullough / Advertising Sales Assistant

SOUTH DAKOTA NEWSPAPERS is the official trade publication for the South Dakota Newspaper Association, representing daily and weekly newspapers in the state.

Postmaster: Send change of address to South Dakota Newspaper Association, 1125 32nd Ave., Brookings, SD 57006

UPDATE AND DONATIONS The South Dakota Newspaper Foundation is devoted to the promotion and betterment of journalism and newspapers in South Dakota and elsewhere. These individuals and businesses made recent contributions to the South Dakota Newspaper Foundation. To SDNA Building Fund: Mark and Ronda Roby, Watertown Bill Krikac, Clark County Courier Aberdeen American News Donations to the South Dakota Newspaper Foundation are tax deductible. Consider a contribution in honor of or in memory of an associate or friend. All donations are greatly appreciated. Send to: South Dakota Newspaper Foundation, 1125 32nd Ave., Brookings, SD 57006.


November/December 2010 • 3

South Dakota Newspapers

Don’t believe this Y2K myth Kevin Slimp Director, Institute of Newspaper Technology It’s been an interesting month for me. I’ve spoken at several newspaper conferences, including a national conference for free papers, another national conference for paid weekly newspapers and a third conference for daily newspapers. At all three, I was approached by publishers asking, “What is the future of our industry?” That seems to be the question of the day. Lisa Miller, general manager of New Century Press in Rock Rapids, Iowa, made an interesting comment. During the Institute of Newspaper Technology last week. She noted that it seemed like every conference she had attended this year, other than the Institute, had focused solely on issues related to online journalism. Lisa added that she keeps hearing that print newspapers will be but gone within the next ten years. Like many newspaper publishers and managers that I meet, Lisa was concerned about what this meant to her paper. She mentioned her concern that newsprint would no longer be available, thus making it impossible to produce a community newspaper.

Let me share something I said to a conference of daily newspapers in Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago. After discussing issues related to online journalism for over an hour with the publishers and ad managers gathered in the room, I asked if I should call it a day and leave it at that or tell the group what I really thought about the current state of daily newspapers. Voices from the audiences called out, “Tell us!”

Legislature 2011 during the next legislative session.” He said SDNA also has some concerns about the existing open meetings law and some of the exceptions that are allowed under it concerning access to certain records and other information. “The new governor is willing to work with us and take a look at it,” Bordewyk said. Another related topic that likely will be addressed in Pierre is the idea of allowing government bodies to post their meeting minutes and other business and public notices on the Internet instead of the current requirement of publishing in a legal newspaper. Newspaper publishers oppose that idea, saying it poses problems, including public access and creating a clear record of business activities of those bodies. Bordewyk said SDNA members are already voluntarily posting all their paper’s published legal notices on a central website available to anyone who wants to use that route. The legislators indicated their support for continued publication requirements in their current form as a way to keep their constituents informed. “Most of us here represent very rural areas,” Street said of the legislators. “Our main contact with our constituents is through our local newspapers. “Sometimes that is the only contact we have in some cases.” “Integrity is so important,” Krikac said. “Public notices are an example of integrity in publication in papers.” Bordewyk said some school districts have said their budgets can’t support the cost of publication of those notices, but legal

On the screen behind me appeared the letters “Y2k.” I asked the group how many of them remembered the Y2k scare of the late 90s. Every hand in the room went up. “Do you remember,” I asked, “how everybody stored bottled water, food and blankets in their basements because they were sure the end of the world was around the corner?” The audience nodded in unison.

“I didn’t buy water,” I told them. “And do you know why?” I waited for an answer, but the room was silent as everyone anticipated my answer. “Because I knew it wasn’t real. It was something that people believed because we told them it was going to happen. Everyone kept reading in their newspapers and hearing on TV that the end was near. And they Continued on page 4

Continued from page 1

publication rates are set by the state and are considerably less than commercial display advertising rates. “Actually, statewide, (legal) publication costs are one-half of 1 percent of their (schools) entire budget,” he said, adding having school districts post their own notices on the Internet would also bring more costs to the schools in needed software, maintenance and personnel to maintain the system. Hoover said since he came to the Public Opinion two years ago, he has been amazed by the high level of newspaper readership for local newspapers. “Of the five states I have been a managing editor in, South Dakota is the most dependent on local news sources,” Hoover said. Deutsch also pointed out that, although it is a relatively small percentage, for some small weekly newspapers around the area, the revenue generated by legal notices can make the difference between remaining in operation or closing the door. Bordewyk said the percentage of revenue can be relatively small, but it can also provide a margin of profit in some cases. Schumacher agreed with that, saying revenue from legals is a necessary part of the newspaper business. “Newspaper revenue is like a threelegged stool — advertising, subscriptions and legals,” he said. “If you take away one of those legs…” Street voiced his support for requiring the continued publication of public notices and meeting minutes. “You have to realize, too — cheaper isn’t always better,” Street said. “We live in an age when there is much more information available and much less you can trust.

“We need our local media.” As they wrapped up their meeting, newspaper reps indicated the number of cases where there is limited access to government information that should be public are becoming more and more rare. “I want to stress, we have some very good

(government) actors out there,” Roby said. “It’s just that one or two times...” “I think the legislative process (in South Dakota) is a very good process, transparent,” Bordewyk said. “It’s a lot different than the old days.”

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4 • November/December 2010

South Dakota Newspapers

Printed product pays the bills Continued from page 3 believed it.â€? Heads moved in agreement. Like in a southern church service, I heard a voice say, “That’s right.â€? “Well for the last three years,â€? I continued, “you’ve been telling your readers that newspapers were dying. That the end was near. And guess what. It took a while, but they ďŹ nally believed you. And guess what. Your advertisers believed you, too.â€? For the next few minutes, I shared what I thought about the importance of improving our print products. Now is the time to put more resources into making our newspapers more attractive to our readers. It’s time to invest in staff, equipment and training to create a product that’s more attractive to our communities. Our print product is still vital to our communities. I was recently featured in a series of columns and stories in the Knoxville News Sentinel concerning summer travel mishaps with Delta Airlines. For weeks, people would stop me on the street, in restaurants or wherever to tell me they had read about me in the newspaper. I’d take the time to ask, “Did you see it online or in the print edition?â€? To the person, the answer was the same, “I read it in the newspaper. I didn’t read it online.â€? Like Y2k, we can convince ourselves that the end is near. And we can create a self fulďŹ lling prophecy that will make that a reality sooner than later.

SDNA/NDNA Boards meet For the second consecutive year, the boards of directors of the North Dakota Newspaper Association and SDNA met to explore areas of common interest. The most recent meeting was Oct. 7 in Bismarck. Among the topics discussed was the possibility of a joint state convention in 2013. The two boards toured the North Dakota state capitol and met with various state government ofďŹ cials, including Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who since then has become North Dakota’s governor. From left: Tom Monilaws, Trail County Tribune, Mayville; Jackie Thompson, Walsh County Record, Grafton; Allan Burke, Emmons County Record, Linton; Steve Baker, Pierre Capital Journal; Wanda Olaf, Williston Herald; Jon Hunter, Madison Daily Leader; North Dakota Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple; Doug Card, Britton Journal; Lucy Halverson, Lyman County Herald, Presho; Dave Bordewyk, SDNA; Jill Friesz, Grant County News, Elgin; Roger Bailey, NDNA; and Kathy Leinen, News-Monitor, Hankinson.

Matt Yeager, a friend and publisher in West Virginia, told me last week that he didn’t understand why everyone thought print newspapers were dying. At his paper, ad revenues are at an all time high. Circulation hasn’t dwindled. People are reading the newspaper. I asked him if he had told his readers that newspapers were dying. “No,� was his response. “They’re not

dying. Why would I tell them that?� My thoughts exactly, Matt. I ended my keynote to the group in Portland by reminding them to create an online product that engaged the reader and advertiser, but to remember that it’s the print product that pays the bills. It’s the print product that most of our readers turn to for their community news. The dean of a major school of journalism

told me two years ago that he felt all print newspapers would be gone within two years. He was a little surprised when I told him that might be the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. “Why would you say that?� he asked. “Because if all the print newspapers die,� I said, “I’m starting one. I’ll make a fortune.� Enough said.

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South Dakota Newspapers