The Garretson Gazette is joining more than 100 newspapers across South Dakota and North Dakota this week to participate in a “whiteout,” a project to demonstrate visually what it would be like if there was no newspaper serving the community.
The blank front page is meant to highlight the role that newspapers in both Dakotas have in telling the stories of the community and in keeping the community connected.
This is also National Newspaper Week, an annual observance to promote the importance of newspapers and journalism in the communities they serve.
“The community newspaper is the main source for all things local -- local news, information and advertising,” said Kelli Bultena, president of South Dakota Newspaper Association and publisher of the Lennox Independent and Tea Weekly. “Newspaper journalists cover school board meetings, the local sports teams, community celebrations and so much more.
“Imagine what it would be like if there was no newspaper to cover the community. That is the message this two-state whiteout project is meant to convey this week,” Bultena said.
Bultena added that even though the front page is blank, the news that would normally be on page one can be found on other pages in this edition.
North Dakota Newspaper Association President Harvey Brock, publisher of the Dickinson Press, said leaving front pages blank is a significant commitment by newspaper publishers, but those who are doing it are convinced the message of the whiteout is critically important.
“Publishers and their staffs are tired of the narrative that people have fled from newspapers and are now getting their news from social and online media, because it simply isn’t true,” Brock said.