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At the Civic Center Board meeting this week, I was sitting by Mayor Steve Allender. One of the speakers at the event wasn't happy because of how few details were released about the agreement to rename the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

"If there hadn't been a story in the Journal, no one would have known about any of this," he said. 

Mayor Allender - knowing that I had written that story - leaned over and joked, "Don't get a big head."

I didn't. At least not about that. 

Telling people things they don't know about issues that affect their lives is the calling of a newsroom. I am glad the story highlighted issues that needed to be resolved before the contract was approved. I'm also glad they were resolved and the naming rights agreement was signed.

That story is one example of how the Journal has had an effect on local issues. I can name dozens of similar incidents since I moved here in June. I am very proud to be part of this newsroom because of the work they do. But this newsroom was great long before I got here. 

It is a good thing that our reporting highlighted an issue that needed to be addressed. But this is Rapid City. There is still a strong journalistic presence here in print, online, television and radio. That is good for the residents and the community as a whole.

But think about what we are missing because the newsrooms in all of these operations are smaller than they once were. Rapid City issues are still discussed, but without a news tip or a little luck, how many issues like this have gone unreported in smaller towns across the area?

There are only a handful of reporters whose primary job is covering state government in South Dakota. That isn't enough to do the job as well as it needs to be done.

Jack Shafer wrote a column in Politico this week that encouraged people to drop subscriptions to local newspapers if they are owned by Alden Global or the newly merged monster GateHouse/Gannett. His argument is that your money is supporting these companies. He found a problem but his idea for a solution is probably the worst thing for the industry, for the employees of those organizations and for the communities where they work.

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His idea that if newspapers become less profitable these conglomerates will suddenly shrink margins and start producing a quality higher product is ridiculous. When local newspapers have been forced out of business, those holes aren't being filled. I have seen several local groups attempt to fill the gaps caused when big media companies pulled out of small towns. None of them have had the impact of the newspaper that was closed and few of them survive. 

Local media needs to be supported. No news organization has "visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads." We just want to go a year without Santa's eight tiny reindeer trampling us.

Your subscriptions and the success of our advertisers can help local newsrooms succeed. In 2020, success will be defined differently than it was a quarter of a century ago when I first stepped into a newsroom. But the job we do is at least as important as it was then - probably more important.

There aren't as many of us in the local news business as there used to be. But your support means there will be more days in the future where Rapid City is a better place because of the stories we tell and how they touch your life.

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Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.

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