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Our view: Yes, gesture did indeed make our day

Herald editorial board

Every now and then, the newspaper becomes the story. It happened last week in Maryland. To a much, much lesser extent, it happened here, too, and we reacted with awkward hesitance.

A Grand Forks group that wishes to remain anonymous left the following message on the Herald publisher's answering machine: "We were thinking of you guys, in the wake of everything that is going on in Annapolis. We wanted to buy lunch and bring in food to say we appreciate what you do for the community. We just want you to feel some love and support."

For anyone who spent last week in a news vacuum, "everything that is going on in Annapolis" refers to the horrific tragedy Thursday at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md.

And yes, now that you mention it, the shootings did make for a day of reflection as we consider what journalists do each day. It prompted in-house reminders from management that reviewed emergency policies and procedures. It also reminded us that today's world isn't always a good place to do our jobs.

For example, at President Trump's rally in Fargo on Wednesday, he made seven jabs at the press pool during his 70-minute speech. Each one drew jeers from the audience.

And for what? For the way the Herald reports on school and city news? For the way we send reporters and photographers to local baseball games? For the story about new buses in Grand Forks? For the piece about the new Mayville State University president's goals and aspirations? For the editorial clamoring for more UND green to be placed downtown in anticipation of a homecoming parade?

Many goodwill stories are generated each week by Herald reporters, and a lot of good people in our advertising department are busting their backsides trying to help others successfully market our clients' businesses. Circulation and pressroom employees toil in cold and rain, or in our loud plant out at the industrial park.

They continue to do all of this as our industry is battered by changing reader habits, declining national advertising revenue, skyrocketing newsprint costs and increasingly hostile comments.

So yes, when that group told us they'd be sending pizza to the Herald, it dampened a few eyes around our building. And when Deek's Pizza declared it would not accept money for the pizza and instead chose to donate the food, a few more eyes grew misty. And thinking of it all makes the person who's writing this editorial sniff back a tear as well.

As we had our own reservations about whether this goodwill truly was news, we chose not to report it. The Canadian Broadcasting Company, however, wrote a full story.

Since Deek's decided to donate Friday's lunch to the Herald, the group that had raised the money for our lunch instead donated it to a local journalism scholarship program at UND. The Herald now will match that donation.

Meanwhile, the anonymous group and Deek's were right — it sure did make our day.