2013-02-14 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

One day of snow flurries, highs of 16 to 36 degrees and lows between 8 and 20 degrees are weather topics for this week. Last Sunday’s blizzard was much milder than what the eastern part of the Dakotas experienced, and the heartland could still use some snow to fill up the dugouts and creeks.

A blizzard named Orko

The National Weather Service now gives names to winter storms, so the blizzard that swept through the heartland Sunday night was branded Orko. Orko is the thunder god in Basque mythology.

While Nemo brought thunder and lightning with the blizzard that struck the East Coast, we had no thunder in our area. At least, I didn’t hear any. The storm names probably should have been swapped.

Typically, it’s hard to judge a storm when you’re in town. Everything is worse out in the country, and I’m sure Sunday night was not a good time to be driving. We’ve had much worse storms, but this one got played up big by the weather people. The predictions were on target for the eastern part of the state where there was something like a foot of winddriven snow. The heartland was in the one- to three-inch range.

We were spoiled with the mild weather last winter, and this winter, so far, hasn’t been bad, although you don’t have to go very far to find more snow.

I am glad the National Weather Service is using unique names instead of relying on the common first names they use for hurricanes— like Andrew, Sandy and Katrina. People with storms named after them are probably subjected to a lot of teasing. My guess is that Orko doesn’t mind that much.

On the college circuit

Roger Bailey, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, and I enjoyed our trip last week to Jamestown to tour Jamestown College and meet President Robert Badal and Professor Steve Listopad. The NDNA Education Foundation, which I chair, granted money to the college’s Student Media Center to develop a website that will improve the distribution of student information. Our hope is that some of what will be learned in the process will be helpful to journalists around the state.

Our next board meeting will be held on campus, and students will be giving an update on their projects related to the grant.

We are hoping to do some joint educational seminars with the college, and President Badal is interested in reaching out to high school and college journalists as well as to newspapers.

Radical e-mail

At the newspaper, we receive about 250 e-mails a day, and they usually include several from friends and acquaintances who have, to say the least, some radical political views to the point of being what would have been considered unpatriotic or un-American years ago.

No one likes politics more than I do, but I do not like the politics of hate, bigotry and outright lies, which seem to be on the rise.

While Roger Bailey and I were in Jamestown, we attended the Rotary Club meeting with Prof. Listopad and Pres. Badal. Roger was the featured speaker and discussed the relevance of newspapers in today’s hightech world.

During lunch, I noticed a Rotary banner on the wall which included “The Four- Way Test.” The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions:

Of the things we think, say or do—

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I am going to include that in my responses to the hateful e-mails that come to the office. It probably won’t do any good, but I will feel better about it.

The worldwide web

Work continues on this newspaper’s new website. It’s two to four weeks away, but we’re making progress.

Online subscribers will have access to everything on the site, including several past issues, and will be able to read the paper on their computer, tablet and on some cellular phones.

We are developing an online store for the books we sell, including some that we printed, and possibly other merchandise.

People will be encouraged to send videos they have made so that we can share them on the site, and we will launch the site with a video about North Dakota made by the U.S. Embassy in Austria.

We hope people like the site, and, as always, we will be asking for comments and suggestions.

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