Harry's Gang: So long for now as I run again
January 26, 2024
It’s said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. Regardless, this will be my last “Harry’s Gang” column for a while, because I have decided to run for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 11A, which encompasses all of Carlton County and a small part of Pine & St. Louis counties. Again.
There is no legal restriction preventing me from continuing this column. The First Amendment guarantees that the press is free from government restrictions, and we take that pretty seriously in America. By “we” I mean all of us — because, after all, we are self-governed. The newspaper industry takes that responsibility seriously as well, which is why legitimate newspapers with journalistic integrity will pull their political columnists when they run for public office.
Not all publications would silence candidate-columnists. But “real” newspapers will. We’re lucky to have such high journalistic integrity in our local newspaper. At a time when many small towns are losing their newspapers, the Pine Knot News is committed to real journalism. Our community is better for it.
So is our country. The United States Constitution ensured freedom of speech because leaders knew that an independent press would provide a true “check” on each branch of government. It’s nearly impossible to corrupt the government if we, the people, have the right to form our own newspapers and report what the government is doing. That’s why we have clean government in America. It’s true in Carlton County, too. Our newspaper sends reporters to many local meetings of elected officials; we cover important actions by the local courts; and keep up on the actions of government administrations. That’s what a newspaper should do, we feel.
That duty extends to the police department and sheriff’s office too. Their actions are subject to scrutiny by the public, including a free press. Such scrutiny keeps the unscrupulous out of the departments, and helps attract the type of people who truly want to serve and protect. And when the occasional mistake is made, the public finds out. Actually, every part of the government is open to public scrutiny, from public works to the parks department. It’s a great system. Our freedom of speech is the envy of the world.
Newspapers are held accountable too, of course, by the people who read and support them. Occasionally, a statement slips by that turns out to be inaccurate. Do we just hope no one notices? Absolutely not — we print a “corrections” column where we fix every error we find — even something as simple as a misspelled name or address. That’s because we want people to trust our reporting.
And while columns and editorials certainly have a bias, I think you’ll find the news stories are direct and impartial. That’s critical to credibility – not many people will trust the Pine Knot News if we inject our personal opinions and biases into news stories. Our goal is to present the facts and let you decide what information you feel is important.
That’s why Jana won’t run my opinion columns for now. The newspaper will find itself in a conflict of interest if it tries to report on the election and the candidates, when one of the candidates is writing for the newspaper. And not only will I no longer be writing, my duties as publisher are on hiatus, too. That’s not having too big an effect on my life, though. This weekly paper is run by the editor — in this case, editor and general manager Jana Peterson.
My title is mostly one of neccessity. One of the original investors had to claim to be publisher.
So, this is the last “Harry’s Gang” for a while. For the remainder of this election cycle, you won’t be subject to my piddly musings … my incoherent ramblings … my distorted version of the events in my life. I’m sure you’ll be able to get by.