Hagen: As Charles Manson and Vietnam prove, our newspaper is more local than ever – Mitchell Republic

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve moved.

We’re pretty much all based at 400 N. Rowley, which is in the same building as On Sight 24/7 in downtown Mitchell. For the past few weeks, customers have been rolling in, renewing subscriptions and running ads. We are back in business as usual.

Our short-lived Main Street office had a beautiful view, but sometimes change is for the best.

As we packed up, I found in my desk a July 30, 1970 issue of The Daily Republic, which caught my attention for several reasons. The paper was sent to us years ago by a woman in Crookston, Minnesota who was cleaning up her father’s estate.

“I thought you might find this interesting,” the note read. “Please do with it what you will.”

I had no particular reason to keep the historical artifact, the edges torn and the pages faded to a faint yellow. But as I flipped through the 12-page edition, I couldn’t help but realize that change can definitely lead to the better.

The front page, on which the paper cost 10 cents, had nine headlines. Nine! There was a photo showing an Alaskan State Ferry that had nothing to do with the content of the front page.

Included were stories about Charles Manson, the Vietnam War, the United States Census, and significant smog in New York City. What a time to be alive, huh?

This issue was printed about 16 years before I was born, but gave me a fantastic insight into how local our newspaper is today.

When people occasionally say (and yes, I hear your comments), “The local paper just isn’t local anymore,” my response: That’s just not true. And after looking through this 52-year-old edition, I know how dedicated our staff is to producing local news and providing our local readers with content that comes only from us.

Page 8 had sports bylines from the late Dean Minder, Republic Sports Editor, along with Jim Johnston. Johnston, better known as “Jocko” from Harve’s Sports Shop on Mitchell’s Main Street, received a photo message from me with his story titled “Pheasant Infield Hands Stickney 14-13 Victory” in a synopsis of a Sunshine League Playoffs baseball game. Apparently, Jocko was a year out of high school when he wrote it, he said.

Other interesting aspects of this issue? One ad advertised an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Brig Cafe for $1.79; our phone number 605-996-5514 has not changed; and the biggest local news printed on page 3, showing that a new Goodyear store (you would recognize it as Graham Tire) had recently moved to 720 N. Main St.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s compare the Wednesday, November 16, 2022 print edition of the Mitchell Republic. We had four front-page articles, all focused on South Dakota, with two written specifically on Mitchell-related issues. As with the 1970 issue, we still celebrate local birthdays and anniversaries printed on page 2 on Wednesday, and we had South Dakota-focused opinion editorials on A4 and obituaries on A5.

My count of the South Dakota and Mitchell news in the 10-page A section? 11 stories! In a six-page B section, our sports team highlighted our regional coverage with articles on Wagner, Freeman, Burke, Platte and Geddes, in addition to coverage of Dakota Wesleyan University — which was absolutely non-existent in the 1970 paper.

No question, putting together a newspaper was different 50 years ago. The design was cut and paste, typewriters were used to put the stories together, and back then national and international news wasn’t as accessible making printing these stories important.

What remains, however, is the connection to the community. Life has changed and the newspaper with it. We continuously think for the better. Sure, we’re only printing twice a week now compared to six days ago, but did I mention how great and fast our site is? Our employees are still working as many hours and just as hard as ever.

From its inception through July 30, 1970, until today known as the Mitchell Republic, the Daily Republic has always cared about our city, our region and our state. We will continue this commitment.

No, we’re not moving out of Mitchell. Yes, we really, really care about covering local news and serving local businesses.

No matter where our office is located, it will always be like this.

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