Editorial: July 2022

High marks, higher responsibility

Josh Kramer

Often, when I meet people who read this magazine or my editorials, I hear (in jest), “I hope this doesn’t end up in the magazine!” Or, I even hear the opposite, “Put this in the magazine.”

I can assure the readers when I write, I have no intentions of specifically naming any one person or interaction, with the exception of my kids and, perhaps every so often, my wife (if I am feeling bold).

A few weeks back, my kids and I were relaxing before bedtime, scrolling the television channels. For some reason, we stopped on a self-described “news” channel. It only took a few short minutes for me to change the channel, because the commentator was rambling off cringey expletives with the type of language neither my kids, nor me, needed to hear.

I read recently that more rural Americans have moved from receiving locally sourced news to discussing content on social media. While a bit unnerving, this is not a huge surprise.

The buzz around the table at the local coffee shop was normally a news story with a semblance of verification, backed up by information and relevant to local people. Now, we find ourselves debating topics and theories Uncle Fred posts on social media or paid pundits pontificate about, fueling inaccurate or incomplete coverage. Rarely do these topics prove to impact the everyday lives of rural Americans or get to the root issues that affect our local communities and quality of life.

This is especially concerning in rural areas, as national media companies continue to layoff journalists and fewer folks are reporting on issues important to rural America.

Keep your own personal tally. Of all the media you consume in a week, what percentage is local? What is prepackaged content from elsewhere?

We, at North Dakota Living, recognize the platform we have. We appreciate the trust and relationships we, and our member-owned electric cooperatives, have worked hard over several decades to build. We are locally supported. We are proud to be North Dakota’s best-read publication and viewed by our readership as “trusted” and “reliable.” Our most recent readership survey found an overwhelming majority of respondents indicated satisfaction with North Dakota Living.

These are high marks, which we are grateful for and understanding of the responsibility it conveys. In this day of multi-, social and digital media platforms, nearly anyone can get into the business – but not all share the commitment to hosting verified, accurate information and thoughtful contributors.

We often receive feedback from readers or those featured in a story, who express appreciation for the coverage in our magazine. When that happens, I encourage whomever to thank their local electric cooperative for supporting coverage of the relevant, local rural issues of today.

At North Dakota Living, we hold ourselves to the high standard our members and readers expect. Our responsibility to tell the stories of rural people and places has never been greater. Our commitment to doing so has never been stronger.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at jkramer@ndarec.com.