When I began my run for South Dakota’s lone congressional seat, a large part of my platform was accessibility. For years, politicians have gained reputations for hiding from their constituents and local media when times get tough — I think that’s the wrong approach. It’s not a politician’s job to hide, it’s to represent.
In 2019, you can get the latest news from across the world in a single click. It wasn’t always like that — but we have technology and dedicated journalists to thank for our accessible world. With this accessibility in mind, it’s important to know where you’re getting your information. Maybe it’s from the Wall Street Journal or maybe it’s from the Mitchell Daily Republic.
During National Newspaper Week, I think it’s important to highlight the significant work of our state’s local journalists and media outlets.
Despite how up-to-date on current events one may be, Fox News and CNN will almost never tell you what’s going on in your local community. National media will never report on the 100th birthday of your next-door neighbor, the volunteers who spent their Saturday cleaning up a neighborhood after a recent flood, or the public notices and proceedings of local governments. But you can find each one of those stories in the newspaper sitting in your local grocery story or gas station first thing every morning.
That is why I prioritize local journalism whenever I make a statement or have a story to tell. Every so often, I’ll get a call from a constituent who’s curious why they haven’t seen me on cable news, and every time I ask the same question: Have you turned on a local news station or looked in your local newspaper today? Too often, the answer is no. There is always so much information around us — it's almost easier to pick one news source and run with it.
But South Dakota’s local journalists and TV anchors are doing their due diligence. They are asking the tough questions every single week while I’m in Washington, and they are running the stories national media outlets are not.
When I arrived in Washington on Jan. 3, it became quickly apparent Washington is a town that attempts to pull you in a hundred different directions on any given day. It’s important to study the issues, read the bills, attend committee hearings, and visit with South Dakotans who want to talk policy. The days fill up pretty fast, so when I have to choose between doing a national cable TV appearance or answering questions from South Dakota media, I almost always choose South Dakota.
During National Newspaper Week, thank a journalist and spend some extra time reading the local news. Better yet, subscribe to your local paper. Local reporters are the faces you see buried in a notebook jotting quotes during the grand opening of the local community center and they are the faces you see when disaster strikes.