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Ammermann Commentary: Why our front page is blank and void of news today

Welcome to the Whiteout Day during Minnesota Newspaper Week.

Our front page today is void of our normal news content - No news stories or photos.

This empty news front page is not something to be taken lightly.

Just imagine for a minute that your local newspaper was not serving in its reporting and watchdog role.

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Ask yourself these questions.

• Who are the people creating change in your community or who died recently?

• What would people in your town talk about today?

• Where are your town's high school teams playing tomorrow or this week?

• When is the next government or important meeting in your community?

• Why should you care about that pending local issue being debated in your town?

• How would the uplifting or poignant feature story of someone in the community be shared or how much can you save at the latest sale at a local retailer?

Our normal front page is published on page A3 today, so rest assured you are still getting our local content there and elsewhere in our print edition.

More than 200 newspapers across Minnesota are publishing no news on their front page one day this week. This newspaper "Whiteout" event is taking place during Minnesota Newspaper Week, part of the Minnesota Newspaper Association celebration of its 150th anniversary highlighting the importance of newspapers and the news and information they provide to our readers.

Today, 25 daily and 295 non-daily newspapers from Duluth to Worthington, Austin to Warren and many cities and towns in between, like Willmar, belong to the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Since 1867, this news organization has practiced and served its simple motto: "Free press, free people."

The West Central Tribune and other newspapers are the primary sources of local, regional and other news in our communities. Our newsrooms write the first draft of history by telling the stories of the people and our communities.

Our journalists cover the local news everywhere - local cops and courts, the latest obituaries, previews of coming events, local sports teams and up-to-date news and information when those natural disasters, like tornadoes, floods or fires, hit your community.

"Minnesota Newspaper Week is a statewide initiative that reminds individuals of the importance of a free press," reads Gov. Mark Dayton's proclamation for the week.

"Freedom of the Press promotes a well-informed constituency, improves public policy, increases responsiveness and accountability, and enhances public confidence in government institutions," he said.

Print ads in local newspapers remain the most-trusted advertising channel when consumers seek to make a new purchase decision. The company Marketingsherpa asked 2,400 U.S. consumers in a survey released in January: "Which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision?"

The top source was print ads in newspapers and magazines. More than four out of five Americans (82 percent) trusted print ads (newspapers and magazine).

Newspapers publish on many platforms: in print, on digital websites, on social media and in email newsletters. Our digital websites provide 24/7 access to critical information for our readers.

Even those who do not subscribe to the newspaper often use one of our digital products to stay informed about their community.

A newspaper is often the most-quoted media in your community. Politicians and speakers quote our news coverage. Other media repeat content published in our newspaper. Readers repost and comment on our articles on various social media channels. And coffee groups read and critique our content every single day.

If your local newspaper could not publish local and other content, just how would you get information and stay informed?

As you look at our blank front page today, we hope you remember the importance of your local newspaper and how it impacts your life and your community.

Thank you for reading the West Central Tribune.