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Our view: No news isn't always good news

Today's front page has no news on it. Subscribers already know that, of course, because it's quite possible they gasped when they unfurled the Herald on their doorstep.

For those who are shocked or disappointed, let that feeling sink in for a moment, because this is what would exist every day in a city without a newspaper.

Today is Whiteout Day, and more than 200 newspapers in Minnesota—and some in North Dakota—are marking the day by not marking our front pages with words, stories, photos and news. The effort is being held in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota Newspaper Association—of which the Herald is a member—and the idea is to bring attention to the value of local journalism and the work that goes into producing it.

We hear all the time how the Herald must serve as the watchdog for Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and the region. We take that seriously.

Imagine what it would be like without a newspaper keeping watch. Where would residents turn for reliable information? Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat?

Be serious.

We all know those sites are great for sharing photos and family anecdotes, but they cannot compete with a local newspaper for sound professional journalism and advertising trustworthiness.

According to the marketing and research institute MarketingSherpa, print ads are the most trusted advertising channel when consumers want to make a purchase decision. A survey released in January asked 2,400 consumers what medium they trust most when making a purchase decision. The top source — according to 82 percent of respondents — was newspapers and magazines.

So often, we hear this or that about the merits of social media, especially from advertisers who migrate there for cost-savings. Whether it's advertising on that platform or so-called "news" on social media, we say this: You get exactly what you pay for.

Meanwhile, we also hear from so many people who ask us to look into suspected wrongdoing or to write about a child's great accomplishment or to spread the word about some expansion of a local business. And we do it.

We do all of those things because our goal is to chronicle the happenings of the community, which the Herald has done for 138 years—roughly 50,000 editions.

Even those who choose not to subscribe to the Herald still know where to find us, and still look to us for vital community information when they need it.

We maintain a 24/7 website and also have a cost-friendly e-subscription program that looks just like the print version of the Herald. And, yes, we even post news on social media.

Politicians and public speakers quote us, radio stations base programming off of us and coffee groups critique us, every single day.

If newspapers go away, who's going to expose possible corruption in your town's city hall? Who's going to alert residents about new taxes? Or explain confusing fiscal issues at the university? Or document public spending? Or follow the hockey team to Alaska?

Facebook?

While you contemplate our blank front page today, consider that.

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