History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Journalism is inescapable part of me

How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last? 
How do you keep the song from fading too fast?
The song lyrics are by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. I became familiar with this song when it was on the 1984 Frank Sinatra album "L.A. is my Lady." I owned that music on cassette tape, now a medium fit for a museum.
The song asks how or if we can let go of something that has been part of our essence. How do you keep the song from fading?
The song might be apt for me considering my background as a writer and media person. Many people around Morris remember when I was a newspaper person, doing a wide variety of things for the then-twice-weekly paper. The paper came out Tuesday and Thursday for the big majority of my career. It was a family-owned and pretty loosely run business. There were a lot of news columns to fill, maybe double of what they do today.
I don't sense a lot of outward enthusiasm about the Morris newspaper today. I gather many long-time subscribers dropped it. One told me that when the paper went from twice weekly to once - pretty easy to deduce as a 50 per cent reduction - there wasn't a corresponding price drop for the product.
I know of some very prominent local people who have told me they don't subscribe but might consider making a newsstand purchase on occasion. "I buy it if I want it," one said (initials C.G.).
The newsstand price got jacked up to over a dollar. You're buying an awful lot of advertising for that. It's like buying cable TV and then shaking your head about all the commercials you have to watch. Whatever the market will bear.
I'm quite sure the Morris paper is relying on legacy customers, people who feel they simply must "get the paper." That's dubious.
It's not just people on the economic margins who are choosing not to get the Morris paper. I know because I have heard. Some local businesses continue to have their ad circulars inserted, not because it's a well-thought-out decision at the local level, but because the decision is made by "corporate." Corporate doesn't even know the circulars are getting lost in an abominable pile of non-local circulars, placed by businesses who I'm certain aren't paying the same price to be inserted here.
The paper is owned by a non-local chain. That chain also owns the Alexandria newspaper. It's in the chain's interests to try to cater to the Alexandria customers. It's no secret that Alex is a big draw for Morris shoppers. People chuckle as they note how many Morris people they see when in Alexandria. We don't have to wear sacks over our heads. I'm not sure how much extra help Alexandria needs. Well, that's a rhetorical question - Alex needs no special help. The Morris newspaper ought to exist to serve the interests of Morris and its businesses. It's nice we have an asset like that "Merchants" publication. But it really shouldn't be needed. The Morris paper has the resources to serve the Morris business community.
Back when the Morris paper came out during the week, it served the community nicely by informing about community events, reviewing the recent ones and (most importantly) previewing coming ones. Sometimes we at the office might not get the heads-up about an upcoming weekend event until Tuesday or Wednesday. In the "old days" we could still promote that.
Did the Morris newspaper give a heads-up about the Irondale marching band's performance at Big Cat Stadium on Friday, July 26? That event called for promotion. It was very exciting to view and there was no charge. The people in a position to want to promote it, might not have thought of it until Monday or Tuesday. The band probably didn't get here until then. Monday or Tuesday are too late to get promo info to the Morris newspaper now. The paper doesn't come out until Saturday.
The paper will say they had to make the changes they did. Of course they're going to say that. What they're really saying is "we need to do whatever we can to absolutely maximize our profits." Why is it necessary to make a big profit off reporting information? Some of that money must be going to Fargo, otherwise why would a Fargo-based business own it? North Dakota has enough things going for it now, like the "oil patch."
We have been living in a society in which profits and not people absolutely rule. I do predict this will change. People are going to demand a more personal touch in the services they receive.
I have been delighted to continue my journalism online for the past 3 1/2 years. I have to do it now sans any compensation of course. So it's no real substitute. But I hope my efforts send a message that community news and promotion don't have to come with a pricetag. People want information to be free. There are no constraints today.
I found out about the Irondale band's performance from a posted bill downtown (a piece of paper attached to a bulletin board at a place of business). I have suggested that because of the current demonstrated weakness of the Morris newspaper, the system of posting bills has probably gained more importance here. It's a charming and dated system. I pause and look at these items a little longer than I used to. The April memorial concert for my late father relied on this system a lot. We were a little worried about how big the audience would be. Concert-goers would be charged $5 for a ticket. We were relieved and ecstatic to find a very large audience. The UMM band under Simon Tillier played a new interpretation of my father Ralph's original "UMM Hymn." There must have been three or more standing ovations for the musicians through the concert (especially after Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue").
The Chamber of Commerce sends out the helpful weekly "Friday Facts" email. One problem with that is sometimes events appear there that have already been held by the time I get the email. The Chamber of Commerce should know that a high-quality, well-managed service like this can be one of its biggest assets for getting support in the Morris business community. There's nothing to keep the Chamber from becoming a full-fledged media entity. Is it work? Yes, but building and maintaining any important asset is work.
I have suggested that MACA athletic teams develop their own websites for reporting purposes. There has been some dabbling in this. I credit Mark Torgerson for his experimentation with "Maxpreps." But it's mainly just "dabbling." Might it be work for the coaches? Oh, for sure. But they're already obligated to compile information and submit it to the legacy media, so I suspect it wouldn't be a big adjustment. Besides, you can document the benefits of doing this. It's PR, and for all school programs, vying for financial and community support, PR is something to be sought.
I continue performing journalism on my two blog sites because it's something that's just inside me.
More words from the song by Alan and Marilyn Bergman (music by Michael LeGrand):
How do you not run out of new things to say? 
With any luck then I suppose the music never ends.
With yours truly, "the music will never end."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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