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Rick Lubbers column: Local newspapers fill in the blanks

Too much white space is a bad thing.

One of the core principles of newspaper design is achieving a healthy balance among words, photos, graphics and the white space that binds them together.

Too much white space creates chaos on the page and the elements blend together in an unappealing way.

The front page of Wednesday's paper is mostly white space, with the words "Imagine a day without local news" prominently displayed.

It's just for one day; you'll find all of your local news in the rest of Wednesday's paper. But imagine if there were nothing but blank pages — or no pages — every day. Our Twin Ports community and surrounding region would lose an irreplaceable information hub.

Rick Lubbers Today, Minnesota Newspaper Association members are demonstrating the importance of local journalism by printing mostly blank front pages. It's a prospect that should frighten all of us — journalists and readers alike — because without newspapers, there is no safety net, no backup to the lost local journalism. Not in our fractured cultural landscape where small morsels of information are parceled out from myriad self-interested parties.

Newspapers connect a community's residents like no other medium or organization. They inform, enlighten, empower, engage and entertain. Newspapers give residents a public forum to debate issues facing them and their neighbors and equip them with the priceless power of information.

Take elections, for example. Newspapers are unparalleled in the amount of information they provide readers about local, regional and national candidates. No other member of the media comes close. For voters to make informed choices, newspapers are a must-read.

The opinion pages also provide a public forum for community members to express their opinions in a civil and unfiltered way. Try that on Facebook.

Other news sources also can't compete with the number of story-seeking journalists hitting the ground of their communities, or with the years of experience they possess. Simply put, there isn't a larger, more experienced newsroom in northern Minnesota than the News Tribune's.

If our local newspapers disappeared, nothing would fill the void to provide the diversity of information, presented with independence, balance and context, on which you, the readers, rely.

Yes, too much white space would be a bad thing.

For nearly 150 years, the Duluth News Tribune has provided quality local journalism for the Twin Ports community. We at the DNT greatly appreciate your readership and look forward to many more years of publishing valuable community journalism.

Contact News Tribune editor Rick Lubbers at rlubbers@duluthnews.com or (218) 723-5301. Follow him @ricklubbersdnt on Twitter.

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