Here are some editorials from newspapers around the state:

A look behind the curtain

From the March 24 Laramie Boomerang

The Associated Press did a marvelous piece of reporting recently on the continuing decline of newspapers in cities and towns across the nation which the Boomerang printed on Wednesday, March 13. In our view, it’s a distressing trend for many reasons. While it’s true that a newspaper has inherent bias in contextualizing its own decline, it’s not melodramatic to say that the decline of traditional journalism comes with negative consequences.

For example, findings published in the Journal of Financial Economics indicate municipal borrowing costs more than double in towns where newspapers close. Newspapers and their coverage help hold governments accountable. Findings reported in the American Economic Review show newspapers have a “robust positive effect” on political participation by increasing turnout in elections.

It’s understood the media landscape is changing, and newspapers have culpability for failing to anticipate market changes and the popularity of electronic and social media in past decades. But we think the majority of our residents can appreciate what the city’s legacy media organization continues to provide. Times are tight resource-wise, but we will continue to regularly monitor local government, public safety, community happenings, business and more in a way other models can’t provide — all this with our readers’ support.

But creating an all-encompassing, broad set of reasons to support the newspaper is not the end goal of today’s message. Instead, we want to take an opportunity to delve into the distinctions between editorial and news functions.

In the age of social media, the line between editorial stances, contributed content and news reporting continues to blur. We frequently hear letters to the editor or columns referred to in casual and serious conversations as “stories.” And while there’s no reason to get tied up over syntax or terminology, it does seem to create confusion and misperceptions.

We stand by our news stories being objective, thorough pieces of journalism. The only editorial point of view in the paper that’s represented in news stories is our judgment that we feel this is information you need to know. If you disagree with our coverage, please tell us.

Letters to the editor are submitted by readers and are not part of our reporting process. As long as the submitter is a resident of Albany County or is addressing a local issue, they will generally be printed. There are circumstances where letters are determined unsatisfactory to print, for instance if a letter appears to contain blatantly false information, threats, generally doesn’t serve the conversation or is offensive. It’s a subjective decision that’s rarely employed, but we do have the authority to decline its publication.

When it comes to our community editorial board, it’s important for readers to understand these editorials are not part of our reporting process and do not affect our coverage of the news. That can be hard to reconcile, but there is a deliberate line.

Newspapers have different approaches to editorial boards. Some have membership that is all in-house, and consisting entirely of staff members. Others include staff and volunteer community members who contribute to the discussion. In those cases, editors sometimes write whatever they want, regardless of what they hear from board members.

The Boomerang’s editorial board consists of two staff members — the managing editor and general manager – and community members. Currently, there are four community members, one of whom is the paper’s former publisher.

Board membership is determined by Boomerang management and members are rotated at the editor’s discretion. The community members represent their personal perspectives, not necessarily the perspectives of the organizations for which they work or to which they belong.

It’s important to note that the points of view expressed in these editorials are not the perspective of one person sitting in a dark room addressing grudges. These are the opinions of community members crossing streams with the people who bring you the news.

We meet once a week to discuss potential topics which are usually generated by the previous week’s news or include topics of interest or concern to board members. After deciding on a topic and brainstorming ideas on how to cover it, the Boomerang’s managing editor writes a draft of an editorial that is sent out to the board members who give their feedback and suggest changes; what you see is the final product. While it’s the managing editor’s discretion whether to include points made by board members, those suggestions are regularly included in what you read on the Opinion page.

Coming to a consensus on topics is not always easy, but we’ve found ways to arrive at satisfactory messages at the end of each week. It’s common that we disagree on finer points of issues, but the end goal is to find a big-picture point we do agree on and make that the focus of our message.

This method is used because, for our purposes, it is the best way to represent the community. It’s sincerely democratic, which is appropriate because of Laramie community members’ uniquely diverse backgrounds. Other newspapers’ methods are valid and work for them, but this has been a reliably fair way to determine stances for our local newspaper as far as we’re concerned.

If you’re unhappy with our editorial positions or with our news coverage, we always invite readers to submit letters to the editor or give us direct feedback. In some cases, we’re also open to considering guest opinion editorials. These and other syndicated op-eds appear throughout the week.

We strive to include people from differing socio-political backgrounds who are well-informed on matters of interest to the community. We’re currently looking for new members.

As such, we’d like to invite and encourage our readers to send nominations to news@laramieboomerang.com. Whether you want to nominate yourself or someone you feel would be an excellent candidate, we’re interested in hearing from you.

We hope this attempt at transparency is valuable for our readers. The Boomerang cannot exist without the support of our readers and advertisers, so it’s a critical part of our mission that people understand our processes in order to maintain and increase trust. If there’s more you’re curious about, let us know. If there’s more the newspaper can do to improve its relationship to the community, we’d love to hear from you.

The media will continue, as it should, as a private enterprise in the fourth estate of American government. Independent media are a critical part of our community, and we want to make sure the people we serve feel they are getting what they need.

Amazon kills main street business

From the March 20 Green River Star

If you purchase an item from Amazon, they will, in what appears to be a modern miracle, deliver it your door, even in the remotest part of Wyoming, within a day or two.

If you don’t like it, an even bigger miracle takes place. When the courier comes to retrieve the item, in that same box Amazon sent it you, the courier scans it at your door, for delivery back to Amazon and you are instantaneously refunded the money.

Amazon might be getting an empty box when they credit you, no questions asked.

But that’s no miracle — their business model is unsustainable by anyone other than a company with monopolistic practices.

When Amazon first started in 1997, it was mostly a book re-seller so no one would begrudge that they didn’t show any profit until 2003. Its fourth quarter profits in 2017 exceeded the combined profits of the prior 14 years. Along the way it drove the nation’s biggest bookseller out of business and then, as any economist would suspect, started mandating new rules for publishers.

CEO Jeff Bezos, who until his divorce will be considered the richest person in the world, long preached reinvestment in his business as the reasons for the regular losses.

But that’s a lie. Amazon wouldn’t be in business if not for the stock market. It is investors who have fueled the growth and now dominance of the largest retailer the world has ever known.

And they’ve done it through unfair trade practices, inherently designed to eliminate their competition.

Look around at your favorite bricks-and-mortar stores. Those are what Amazon is unfairly trying to eliminate.

Most Americans aren’t retailers, but we do depend upon local retail to pay for the lion’s share of our needs as citizens. Unlike your local retailers, Amazon paid little or no taxes in most of these United States, until a few years ago.

If you can imagine a world without local retailers, you might want to imagine that same world without local police, clean water and sewers.

There is a laundry list of why it’s a better experience to walk into a locally owned, or even locally managed, shop to buy something. First and foremost for the buyer is service. That may mean there’s someone to help you pick out the right product and if it’s the wrong product, just take it back to the store.

When shopping online, a savvy buyer may be able to work miracles with a smart phone but good luck to the person who attempts to actually use that smart phone to discuss a problem.

So there’s the proof of Amazon’s miracle — they’re eliminating jobs on Main Streets all across America, to feed the beast.

And the beast is your desire for instant gratification.

If you spend $100 with a local retailer, that money recirculates in the community a multitude of times, burgeoning the local economy.

Spend that Benjamin with Amazon and you achieve the opposite effect for your community. You diminish your local economy by several hundred dollars with your $100 purchase.

A recent investigation report on Amazon states that the company killed almost a million local retail jobs last year along with a staggering 62,000 local shops.

If Teddy Roosevelt were president now, Amazon would be broken up by way of the Sherman Act, along with Facebook, which we believe is America’s real Public Enemy Number One, Google, and others who bamboozle the public into believing there is no long-term harm in unfair competitive schemes.

But America is at its ebb in political courage.

Greed, which was a few generations ago considered one of the deadliest sins, seems now to be the American ideal.

All those years of nonprofits also garnered Amazon billions in tax refunds. The federal taxes you pay did, in some sense, pay for Amazon’s ability to create those miracles you enjoy online.

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