The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook

 


The author of a newspaper column I regularly read often begins his column with “Things I know and things I think I know.”

If I were to attach a title to this week’s column it would be “Things I don’t understand.”

Saturday morning I received a telephone call apparently sponsored by one of the national political parties. The caller indicated she was taking a public opinion poll and wanted to ask Roy Blauvelt a few questions. I responded by saying he was not available.

She wouldn’t settle for me telling her my father was not available. She was determined she must talk with him. After she asked when he would be available, I explained that he had died eight years ago.

Her response blew me away. Apparently her script didn’t have a response for dead because she said, “That’s perfectly fine, I’ll try back later.”

I can’t stop her from calling back but I am certain she will never reach him.

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The Nebraska State Historical Society was organized in 1878 to “encourage historical research and inquiry, spread historical information and to embrace alike aboriginal and modern history.” It was upgraded to a state agency in 1883. For reasons I never understood, the agency changed its name to History Nebraska two years ago.

Until now the agency has collected and microfilmed Nebraska newspapers. The agency has maintained the world’s most extensive collection of The Superior Express. When the Superior Public Library wanted to make back issues of the this newspaper available to those doing historical research, I enlisted the historical society’s help for the society’s collection is much more complete than is the newspapers. Superior Publishing purchased and donated to the local library copies of the society’s microfilm library. Since the initial donation, the library has kept the collection current by annually purchasing microfilm copies of the previous year’s papers.

When this newspaper receives calls from people doing historical research, we routinely direct them to either the state historical society or the Superior Public Library.

For my personal interest, I have in my home office a microfilm reader and a few reels of early Express films but my collection is far from complete and contains nothing after 1930.

When companies began digitizing newspapers, I inquired at the historical society office. I was told the society was continuing to microfilm because it was a stable medium that would last for decades.

I accepted that answer. I have printed glass plate photographic negatives that likely were exposed in the 19th century and film negatives from the 1930s.

When this newspaper first began using computerized type setting equipment in the 1970s, I began saving stories I thought would be suitable for reprinting at another time. My first saves were on perforated tape. The typesetter we had read six-hole tape but other machines read seven and eight hole tape. Once a western Kansas publisher sent us some six-hole tape he had saved and couldn’t read after buying a new machine. From perforated tape we moved on to storing files on 8-inch floppy discs, then 5 1/4 in floppy discs which were replaced by 3.5 inch single side plastic discs, Syquest tape drives, ZIP drives, hard drives and finally flash drives.

The first stories saved were preserved with proprietary formats which can only be read by that company’s equipment. Later we used mass marketed programs like WordStar and Perfect Writer. Word Perfect was a popular program we bought but never used. Even the stories we saved 35 years ago in Microsoft Word, a program that is still being marketed, are difficult, if not impossible, to read with current equipment.

We can, however, still read microfilm.

On June 16, History Nebraska sent us a letter advising the agency had made the decision to cease microfilming newspapers and would no longer be collecting or saving our Nebraska newspapers after July 1.

I don’t understand why but with History Nebraska out of the business there is no longer a central place preserving Nebraska’s newspapers.

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My third “I don’t understand” for the week comes from the United States Postal Service.

Almost daily this newspaper receives complaints from subscribers unhappy about the slow delivery of their newspaper.

Now it appears delivery is going to get even slower. The postal service is testing a new scheme they are calling Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation. The new program directs city letter carriers not to prepare presorted and walk-sequenced mail in the mornings but to move directly to their routes. They will return in the afternoon to put the pre-sorted mail in their cases for the following day.

If the National Newspaper Association is correct and the new policy applies to newspapers, papers like The Express will be even slower in arriving.

We agree with the postal labor unions who oppose the new plan. It is not good for the country or the postal service. The unions are correct when they say the plan will drive even more mail out of the postal system.

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And here’s the fourth and hopefull last thing I don’t understand this week.

Just spoke with a customer in Florida who reported her niece, 38 years old, died Sunday. COVID-19 was the stated cause. Earlier a nephew who was the niece’s brother, died of COVID-19 related health problems. While to my knowledge no one in my family circle has contracted COVID-19, there have been deaths in a co-worker’s family,

There is so much conflicting information circulating about COVID-19, I know I don’t know what to believe. What I do believe is it can cause serious health issues and I am anxious to put it behind us.

In my effort to avoid it, I’m trying to social distance, wear a mask, get plenty of rest, eat right, spend time outside soaking up Vitamin D, ventilate my work places, avoid crowds and indoor venues, sanitize work areas and my hands, try not to rub my face, the list goes on...

I’m anxious to put COVID-19 to rest and return to more normal activity. And that is the one statement I believe most readers will agree with.

 

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