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Zooming to a newspaper meeting

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Feb 14, 2021

I zoomed to a meeting last week. I wasn’t late. I did not speed in my car to get to it. No traffic ticket was necessary. I went by way of Zoom. It was a Zoom meeting.

It was not my first one. You have probably been to at least one, also, in this past year.

Zoom, of course, is a form of virtual meeting. It is where you meet with folks on your computer and you are not really there in person. You are actually comfortably ensconced in your office at work or at your den at home.

For the record, there are many kinds of virtual meeting platforms. There is Facebook Messenger Video Chat and Google Meets, for instance, as well as others. But for the sake of this essay, I will refer to all of them as Zoom meetings.

In these pandemic times, Zoom meetings are the new norm.

The staff at the Register has gotten used to attending Zoom public meetings. Or having corporate Zoom meetings with folks from across the country.

In some ways, Zoom meetings are nice. They can be easy to attend. No travel or staying in hotels or losing three days of work in order for everyone to get together and talk things over.

We had Zoom Thanksgiving and Zoom Christmas last year. You maybe did, too. It was good to at least see everyone and visit, even if we were not all together.

My Zoom meeting last week was the annual meeting of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. It is generally held near the end of the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Annual Newspaper Convention.

This year’s 2021 MNA convention was the 154th annual gathering of newspaper folks in Minnesota. And the 154th annual meeting of the association. Both were held virtually. I am pretty sure that was the first time that has ever happened.

The convention always features several meetings and seminars over a two-day period, and those worked fairly well being held virtually.

Part of the convention is always the presentation of the awards in the Better Newspaper Contest. Again, it was done virtually. That sort of worked virtually, but, it was just not the same as going up in front of several hundred fellow newspaper people and receive your award from the president of the association and shake his or her hand.

Still, it is nice to be recognized.

This year the Faribault County Register had two staff members who received awards, virtually, during this year’s contest presentation. Congratulations go to Kristin Woodwick and Kevin Mertens. Kristin took second place in the Best Advertisement category, and Kevin took second place in the Best Sports Feature Story category.

This year’s virtual MNA Convention was just not the same for me. My main reason to attend the convention each year is to visit with my fellow editors and publishers from around the state, many of whom I have known for years, and find out how things are going for them, trade ideas, learn some new tricks of the trade.

That did not happen. And this year, of all years, with a pandemic causing us all a lot of headache and heartache, it was the worst year to miss out on that camaraderie. Newspapers, like many other businesses, had a rough year in 2020. In fact it was because many of our local businesses, who are our advertisers, were struggling, that we were also hit hard.

The Zoom Annual Meeting of the MNA accomplished what needed to be done for the association. Reports were given, new officers were elected. (The new president of MNA is our neighbor to the west, Justin Lessman of the Jackson County Pilot.)

But after the meeting was over, those of us still “in attendance” had a chance to chat. There were editors and publishers from around the state, some retired ones Zooming in from Florida and Arizona, and a few who put up a fake background of a beach scene behind them and we never found out where they actually were located for the meeting.

We did some catching up. One person mentioned that a year ago at the convention and annual meeting in January of 2020, who would have thought that the next year we would be meeting virtually. Someone else said that even last summer and fall, he never thought this pandemic deal would still be around in 2021 and cause our annual convention and annual meeting to have to be done by way of Zooming over the Internet.

It is better than nothing. We are lucky to have had this technology available. Things can still get done. Meetings can still be held. People can still “visit” friends and family on the computer screen, at least.

But, I’m sorry, it is just not the same.

It will be nice next year when the MNA Convention and Annual Meeting can be held live and in person. I mean, we will be able to have it in person by January 2022, won’t we?

Man, I sure hope so.