2013-04-25 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

Spring has sprung! The forecast calls for highs ranging from 40 degrees to 69 degrees with lows between 21 and 43 degrees. Showers are mentioned for next week, and we hope the “S” word is gone until at least November. There will be lots of smiles when the thermometer goes past 50 degrees today (Thursday).

One of the greatest

We were saddened to learn of the death of Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today and a giant in the newspaper industry and the field of journalism. I regret never having an opportunity to meet him even though he made speeches in the Dakotas several times in recent years.

There was a close call about 10 years ago when he stopped at the Prairie Pioneer office and signed the guest book. It was during one of his many trips to visit his hometown, Eureka.

Neuharth was generous in his donations to causes in his home state and home town and has done as much as anyone in the last century to promote journalism education and to attract young people to the field.

USA Today, a national newspaper, has had a profound impact on newspapers, both in the approach to news and in providing news summaries. However, Neuharth also caused tremendous change in the printing industry. His newspaper was produced on computers in the early 1980s and sent via telephone line to several printing plants around the country. By printing at multiple locations, the paper could be delivered at roughly the same time every morning throughout the country.

The technology developed by Neuharth’s organization is what makes it possible for this newspaper to be produced by computer and then sent electronically to the printing plant.

Small towns have produced many national figures, and it is humbling to know that Al Neuharth came from our part of the country.

Good-bye snow

We hope the April 14 blizzard that brought 20 or more inches of snow to the heartland is our last snow of the season, but it is important to be thankful for the moisture it brought. It ended, or at least severely interrupted, what appeared to be a drought, and farmers are now very hopeful about this year’s crops.

When it didn’t warm up last week, and we started this week with a lot of the snow still on the ground, it was a bit discouraging, if not downright depressing. However, the forecast is for beautiful weather, which will make quick work of the last of the snow and also of the “blues.”

Bertram G. “Bert” Retriever is not anxious for the snow to melt. His favorite hobby is making snow angels in the backyard, and the snow on our lawn is covered with his imprints. I think we should have entered him in the annual snow angel contest. I can’t imagine any other dog has made more.

We are glad to see the pooch roll in the snow because it’s an important part of his personal hygiene in the winter months when it’s too cold to give him a bath.

So, we’ll be celebrating as the snow disappears, and our big, red dog will miss it.

Bridal offers

The 250 e-mails that arrive daily would be fewer if I didn’t get so many offers for Russian and Chinese brides and for millions of dollars waiting to be claimed in overseas estates.

My electronic mail box also seems to attract promotions from dating sites. The most recent one is for dates with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I am quite happy with my bride, thank you.

On the road

We will be attending the first ever joint convention of the South Dakota Newspaper Association and the North Dakota Newspaper Association in Rapid City later this week. Thankfully it is this week and not a few days earlier when the Black Hills was buried under a couple feet of new snow.

Leah and I enjoy the newspaper gatherings because we see many of the attendees only once a year at the conventions. We have not attended a South Dakota convention for nearly 20 years, so we are looking forward to renewing old acquaintances. Several of my college classmates are in the business, so I will get to see them.

We have already had some questions from other newspaper people about our new websites, so we will be sharing some information about these new ventures.

Advertising Manager Julie Brandner and Reporter Terri Lang are also attending. The speakers and workshops are always good, so we all hope to come back smarter than when we left home.

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