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Woster: As delivering news adjusts, we must transition with it

I use my laptop and phone to catch stories morning, noon and night online, through the Mitchell Republic and through any number of other newspaper and news magazine sites.

Terry Woster
Terry Woster

I’m a Chicago Bears fan primarily because that team played most often on Sunday afternoon television when I was a kid.

We had little choice in our television viewing. We didn’t get television until I was about 12, when KPLO began broadcasting from a tower on Medicine Butte a few miles from our farm. For a time, that was the only channel we received. Fuzzy and sometimes covered with snow and ghosts, it was still television.

I mention that because sometimes what is available to you determines what you watch, read or hear. Early in my television viewing life, my family watched the CBS Evening News. Walter Cronkite is the first evening anchor I remember. I admired him. He ramrodded a half-hour show that was mostly hard news stories. Golly, he could pack a lot of stories into a short amount of time.

Whether it was because of Cronkite or because his evening program was the first my family followed, all my life I have tended to drift to network television for my broadcast news. Even as the choices grew, from three networks to an almost unlimited number of cable and online news sources, habit and inertia kept me with Walter Cronkite. Oh, now and then I gave Chet Huntley and David Brinkley a try, or even Peter Jennings. And when South Dakota native Tom Brokaw became a network anchor, I watched his show quite often. I usually found myself drifting back to the newscast with which I was most familiar. Old habits die hard.

Over the years, I found myself relying more and more on newspapers for in-depth coverage of news, good and bad. That started back when The Daily Republic arrived in the farm mailbox a day late. During high school, we had a selection of state and national newspapers. They hung on wooden dowels from racks at the front of the study hall. If we had our assignments in hand, we could go to the racks and spend our study hall time reading the papers. I tried to always have my assignments in hand, because I really enjoyed seeing how the various papers handled stories. In the evening after school, I would still join my folks in watching Walter Cronkite. I kept up with most current events that way — top of the news from the evening broadcasts, more of those stories and a plentiful selection of other stories from the newspapers.

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Since I retired, I have discovered that I can read newspapers off and on the entire day. I still get the Mitchell Republic in print a couple of days a week. I still love to hold an actual newspaper in my hands. I’m an old dog, but I can learn new tricks. I use my laptop and phone to catch stories morning, noon and night online, through the Mitchell Republic and through any number of other newspaper and news magazine sites. It’s like the old newspaper racks back in study hall, only more immediate.

A colleague in my Associated Press days used to call us news junkies. He was right. I still need my news, and I need it from legitimate sources. As I have said before, when I go to a newspaper site, I can’t be guaranteed everything will be correct, but I know they’ll be trying to make it so. That gives me the same comfort level I had when I read the paper at home or in study hall and when I watched the evening news before supper with my family.

During our marriage, especially after the kids moved on, Nancy and I got in the habit of watching the evening news before we had supper. We usually went through the morning papers with breakfast. It’s just something we do to stay informed.

Things have changed immensely in the news business, both in how it is gathered and how it is delivered. I struggled with some of the changes, but I am continually amazed at how well the adjustments have been handled. The industry has worked hard at staying around and staying relevant in an ever-changing world.

Now if I could just get the Bears to work that hard to stay relevant.

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