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Off the Editor’s Desk – 10-22-2014

I have written about my involvement with the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair. At the museum, we print a weekly newspaper, the way it was done back in the 1930s using letterpress equipment and hot lead to form the type used in printing. It is a method that was abandoned by newspapers in the 1960s and ’70s.

 In our new quarters, in the 4-H building on the fairgrounds’ north side, we had some 17,000 visitors. This was about 10,000 less than we had been averaging at our old building on the west side. The fair spent $15 million to rebuild that side of the fairground calling it the West End Market. In that rebuilding, we lost our old building that looked like a small town weekly newspaper office.

The museum is a project of the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation. The Board of Directors, of which I am a member, engaged a firm to do a survey during the state fair. Questions asked of visitors included if they like the museum, would they visit again? How do newspapers impact your daily life and would you like to learn more about your First Amendment rights?

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution contains the five basic rights that we as citizens of this country enjoy. The surveyor conducted 514 surveys, some during their visit to the museum and others done away from the museum site.

I received the report of the survey last month and was very pleased with its results. Only one person was “not satisfied” with our exhibit. But one thing disturbed me and that was that when asked about the First Amendment, thirty-nine percent of the visitors were not interest in the topic and another four percent were unsure.

The entire 46-word of the First Amendment is displayed at the museum. It is written on a banner that covers the entire back wall of the museum. It is our duty, as newspaper people to keep people informed about their rights and protect them.

It is ghastly to me that forty-three percent of those survey, are not interested in the topic of the First Amendment. No wonder that we as citizens of this country have allowed our government to trample our rights, and we sit by watching our government grow and gobble up our freedom.

Here is the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The first ten amendments of the Constitution are called the “Bill of Rights.” The tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I would say, people rise up and strike down those politicians that have burden us with rules, regulations, high taxes and give away programs and taken away our power to determine what is best for us.

Thanks for reading! — Carlton