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Disturbing news
Drift from a Driftless Place
JOHN GIBBS finished up his western adventures at a Farm-n-Fleet in Las Vegas, browsing the hat section. He'd been on the lookout for a good cowboy hat, and no surprise, he found his dream chapeau in the Wild, Wild West.

GAYS MILLS - I’m Disturbed. People who know me have suspected as much for years and it really is a wakeup call when you realize they might be right. What I’m disturbed about, make that one of the things I’m currently disturbed about, is the decline of newspapers. I didn’t have to read the recent article in ‘The Week’ magazine about the subject to know that print media is having problems holding their own in today’s technological age.

Case in point: we got the Wisconsin State Journal for years.  Decades really. Delivered. To our house. It was convenient and a bargain and got read seven days a week. I never could understand how home delivery could ‘pencil out’ and be profitable for the WSJ.

Then one day, the deliveries stopped. Occasionally, the paper would be late getting here and I knew who to call: the carrier. Maybe a flat tire or bad roads had caused the delay.  But, the paper got here. When delivery stopped altogether, for many months I bought a copy at the Marketplace. We watched the paper slim down as time went on. We were aware that reporting staff was being reduced, there were increasingly more ways to receive news, and, a biggie: newspaper ad revenue was way down. 

Then one day, the paper was no longer available at the Marketplace. I was in LaCrosse a while back and tried to buy a WSJ at a Kwik Trip just for old times sake. However, they were no longer getting it even there, which came as a shock. 

People are still getting news of course. But the article I read pointed out that, just like much of society now, you get news that agrees with your views. There is no Walter Cronkite today, the solid, trusted source of news that so much of America relied on, along with the well-known newsmen on the other two major television networks. The multiple social media sites, blogs, YouTube videos, and other screen/phone sources flood our minds with information. That information is not always true, factual, or believable. But people out there are believing it.

It’s become an outdated and quaint notion to have a newspaper to read, so 20th century. Or to have news reported by a just small handful of television news outlets. Will Rogers famously said “All I know is what I read in the newspaper.” I wonder what he would think of the fire hose of information we have available to us today.

I read an interesting book last year called ‘The News of the World.’ It was an unusual western and has been made into a movie. You might enjoy reading the book or seeing the film. Tom Hanks portrays a man who travels the post-Civil War west with a collection of newspapers, which he reads to whatever audiences he could muster.  And, people were hungry for the news in those pioneer days before the telegraph became widespread and affordable. 

We are fortunate here to have the Independent-Scout still on the job, reporting on issues and activities that affect us. Let’s hope that this award-winning weekly newspaper continues for a long time to come.