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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Feb. 11

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: newspaper awards, shoreland rules meeting, big tech, asthma sufferers, blood donors.

Newspaper supporters

Thumbs Up: The Echo Press was fortunate to win 17 awards in the 2020-2021 Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, as reported in our Feb. 2 issue. But there wasn’t enough room in the headline to include all those who played a part – our sources, our advertisers, our readers – both online and in print – our columnists, our reader advisory board, our letter-to-the-editor writers, and others who provided support, information and story ideas in one shape or another during the past year. A successful newspaper can’t survive in a vacuum. It needs a constant flow of information and interaction from all sectors of the local community. We give a big “thumbs up” to all those who played a part in making their hometown newspaper better.

Shoreland rules meeting

Thumbs Up: Those who care about the future of our lakes should circle Monday, Feb. 22 on their calendars. The Alexandria Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing that day at 7 p.m. at Alexandria City Hall. The commission is considering a proposed amendment of city codes regarding shoreland development. It would update definitions, clarify permit requirements, update the list of public waters regulated by the code and set additional performance standards. The public is invited to attend. Residents may also participate via a Zoom meeting. Any questions or comments may be addressed to Alexandria City Planner Mike Weber at 704 Broadway, 320-759-3626 or email mweber@alexandriamn.city.

Big tech hurts local news

Thumbs Down: It’s time to level the playing field against big tech to help local news outlets throughout the country. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, recently addressed that point at a Senate consumer rights hearing on journalism, competition and the effects of market power on a free press. Klobuchar highlighted how big tech’s online platforms’ advertising practices harm local news outlets. “These big tech companies are not friends to journalism,” she said. “They are raking in ad dollars while taking news content, feeding it to their users, and refusing to offer fair compensation. What does big tech’s dominance over the news mean for Americans? Less revenue for local news, fewer journalists to do in-depth high quality reporting, more exposure to misinformation, and fewer reliable sources.” Last March, Klobuchar and other congressional leaders introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to level the negotiating playing field by allowing news publishers and broadcasters to band together to negotiate with digital platforms on the terms on which their news content can be accessed. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would enable news organizations to negotiate terms that would provide fair compensation for news content, while protecting and preserving Americans’ right to access quality news.

Help for asthma sufferers

Thumbs Up: Here’s good news for those coping with asthma. The Minnesota Department of Health has released a 10-year strategic framework to improve the health care and quality of life for more than 422,700 Minnesotans who have asthma. The 10-year plan will focus on closing health equity gaps related to asthma and reducing the burden of uncontrolled asthma, such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, missed days of work or school and preventable health care costs. “Working through collaborative partnerships across the state, we can achieve these goals and improve the health and quality of life for Minnesotans with asthma,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

Blood donors, especially now

Thumbs Up: Here’s a “thumbs up” to all those who have donated blood. If you’ve never done it before, now is a good time. Severe winter weather has complicated efforts to rebuild the national blood supply. The American Red Cross is asking people in areas unaffected by weather to schedule the earliest-available blood or platelet donation appointments in their community. Dangerous snow and ice conditions have contributed to over 600 blood drive cancellations since the beginning of the year, resulting in about 17,500 uncollected blood and platelet donations. More donors are needed to make appointments now for the weeks ahead to help ensure accident victims, cancer patients and new mothers experiencing complicated childbirths have access to lifesaving blood product transfusions without delay. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Another incentive: All who come to give blood or platelets Feb. 1-28, 2022, will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email.

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If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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