During my 33 years as a newspaper editor I sometimes heard this lament: "There's nothing in the paper this week." Or someone might say. "Why didn't they cover such and such?" Or, there were various other criticisms. After the first few years, when I often reacted more strongly to such remarks, I learned that you can't please everyone, AND that people often see things they way they want to see them, regardless of the facts.

It's no secret that newspapers and their circulation numbers have been in decline for a few years as people depend on things like Google and Facebook, or likely other entities that I've never heard of. One of the things that surprised me is that some go on their phones every day to check to see who has been admitted to the county jail. Me? I still have that daily newspaper in hand each day and get most of my news there, although radio and television enter into the picture somewhat for state and national news.

It may be a tired refrain for some but local newspapers have much to offer in the way or news, and in the role of being a watchdog for city, school district, township and county units of government. Many were the times that the Union-Eagle, and many other weekly newspapers, reported on doings at City Hall, school board meetings, or county board meetings, that most residents would never have known about. And there were stories written about area people serving in the Minnesota Legislature.

Where else can you go to find local obituaries, births, engagements, wedding announcements, notices of open houses and club meetings, or news about local students in college? How about all the coverage, in pictures, of local events? Or the feature stories and business news? How about the coverage of local high school teams? Then there is the coverage, as mentioned, of all those meetings of the City Council, school board, county board or some township boards. That kind of coverage takes time, much of it at night, and there's no place else you can get it.

We had a strong editorial section at the Union-Eagle that included local columns and editorials. Our letters section, partly because of local opinion columns, was filled week after week as residents used that section to give their views on what was or wasn't happening.  And when the Casey Ramirez trial was going on in the 1980s, there were weeks of in-person coverage, such as of the trial, that you couldn't find anywhere else, as was the case with other important stories through the decades.

It's true that many were unhappy when the Princeton and Milaca newspapers were combined, as is the case now with Cambridge and North Branch. But at least those communities have newspapers. We've lost about 1,800 newspapers, large and small, in the United States since 2004. And the cities, towns and counties affected are poorer for that. There are 171 counties in the U.S. without a newspaper, and nearly half of the 1,449 U.S. counties have only one newspaper, often a weekly. About one of five newspapers in the country have closed their doors, whether it be a merger or a business decision.

I saw the following paragraph in a daily newspaper in Florida that is owned by the Adams Publishing Group, the same company that now owns the Union-Times that serves Princeton and Milaca. "A newspaper is much more than a source of entertainment. A good newspaper holds its county and city governments accountable for their actions. A good newspaper is a watchdog on how your taxes are spent and sniffs out any corruption in government, how the school district is run, or how nonprofit groups use their donations. A good newspaper . . . partners with local law enforcement to help catch law breakers, fights for justice and leads its community into the future." 

The national observance of Sunshine Week, which began in 2005 to educate the public about the importance of open government, ends on Saturday. But that won't end the role of newspapers to  report the news — often with limited resources as people turn to other sources — as accurately and completely as they can. Many don't understand that reporters and editors sometime labor forever over just a few words in a story that will convey the meaning accurately. It's a labor of love for most in the business. Most of those people work long hours each week, both at night and over the weekend.

We can't afford to lose that kind of journalism. Subscribe to, or at least read, a local paper and you might be surprised at all the information available.

SPORTS SHORTS

The Princeton boys basketball team qualified for the state tournament with a 91-75 win over Hibbing in Duluth Thursday night. The last trip to state for PHS came when Herbert Hoover was president in 1932. Trailing 41-39 at halftime, Princeton had a 52-35 edge in the second half, pulling away late in the game. Center Jon Stimmler had 23 of his game high of 34 points in the first half. Adam Williams (18 points) had 16 in the second half. The scoring was very balanced as Calvin Peterson had 12, Reilly O'Neil 10, Jams Flicek 9 and Tate Laabs 8. Princeton (26-3) has won its last eight games and averaged 87 points a game in section play, to 70 for the opponents . . .   Two graduates of Princeton High School were a big part of the eight-game trip to Arizona by the Gustavus Adolphus College baseball team the first week in March. The Gusties went 5-3 while playing at the Tucson Classic and Sam Archer and Damon Rademacher both saw a lot of action. Archer, a senior, played in every game, batted in the No. 4 spot in seven of the games, and hit .300 while driving in 10 runs. He was the starting catcher in six of the games, a position he has been hoping to play after being a pitcher the past three years. He also pitched in two games in Arizona but didn't fare as well.  Rademacher, a sophomore, pitched in six of the eight games as a reliever, picked up a win and had three saves while giving up no runs in 8 1/3 innings. He gave up only 4 hits, walked one and struck out eight. Archer was 5-1 as a pitcher in 2018 with an ERA of 1.44 and hit .333 in 48 at-bats. Rademacher was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 2018, pitching in 16 innings in 10 appearances.The team had two doubleheaders scheduled with Stout this week but both were postponed because of snow on the field in St. Peter. Next on the schedule is a doubleheader with Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato on March 23. . . . Neither Kurt Suzuki nor Brian Dozier, former Twins, were on hand Wednesday when I attended the Twins-Washington Nationals game in Fort Myers. Dozier will be the starting second baseman for the Nats and Suzuki will share time with former Indian Yan Gomes at the catching position.

SPORTS MEMORIES

March 19, 1964 - After a failed attempt seven years earlier, a town baseball team was being organized, the first since World War II. 

March 19, 1969 - About 30 machines were entered in eight classes of snowmobile races, including Powder Puff, at the Mille Lacs County fairgrounds.   

March 121 1974 -  Princeton beat Montgomery in Region Four play at Williams Arena, 63-61, on Buzz Johnson's jump shot with 13 seconds left as the team won its 13th straight. Dave Mingo had 20 points, Tom Rogde 18. Then Simley beat Princeton for the region title, 64-53. Mingo had 13 points and Rogde 10 points and 11 rebounds . . . Jim Beck placed 10th on the horizontal bar at the state gymnastics meet.

March 22, 1979 -  With an all-time best of 120.37, Princeton placed seventh in the state gymnastics meet at St. Cloud . . .  Bernie Sanborn was named all-conference in basketball . . . Buzz Johnson had 24 points and Bob Koelman 23 as Credit Union beat West Side Lumber 89-64 for the city basketball title.

March 22 1984 -  Kim Bottema was all-conference in girls basketball . . .Freshman Dan Voce, with 32 points (21 goals), led the PHS hockey team in scoring. Voce, Todd Johnson and Butch Vanderhoff were all-conference.

March 22, 1989 -  Judy Bornholdt was named to theSt. Cloud Timesall-area basketball team and to the all-state academic team with a 3.94 GPA . . . Mark Angstman and Paul Sather were all-conference in basketball . . . Bob Hurt, Troy Dohrwardt and Curt Wilson were all-conference in hockey . . . Chad Winkelman was all-conference in wrestling

March 24, 1994 - Eric Stang, a 1993 PHS grad, scored two goals as the North Metro Junior Owls team beat last year's national champ in a game in the Twin Cities. 

March 18, 1999 - Named all-conference in hockey were Eric Englund and John Stockler. Englund was chosen MVP for the Tigers. Captains for the next season were Jay Isaacson and Jesse Beckers.

March 18, 2004 -  John Gloege, filling in as a sports columnist, praised the work of WQPM's Jim Erickson and the Union-Eagle's Luther Dorr, saying there was likely no school in the state that got the kind of coverage Princeton teams did. He also noted the good work of Gary Larson for the Milaca paper.

March 19, 2009 -  Katie Loberg was named to the all-metro girls basketball team by the Star Tribune. She averaged 21.8 points and 12.8 rebounds. She had 2,008 career points, 1,379 rebounds and 561 career blocked shots, second all-time in Minnesota . . . The girls basketball team lost 64-56 to St. Michael in the section title game. Loberg had 30 points, 18 rebonds and 8 blocks. 

March 20, 2014 - PHS grad Mariah Clarin finished her junior season at South Dakota State averaging 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds . . .  PHS grad Jared Berggren was playing professional basketball on a team in Belgium, averaging 8.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.

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