Peter Wagner: The many benefits of reading a newspaper

We’ve published at least three stories recently regarding older Sheldon citizens being scammed over the phone for thousands of dollars. But even though the first two crimes were printed in our Sheldon Mail-Sun in detail, a third individual was taken for soon after for $16,000.When asked by Sheldon police why she hadn’t learned from the stories reported in the newspaper, she replied, “I don’t read the newspaper.”
We published the following editorial the next edition. If limited editing to make it local, It bears repeating in Association member papers across America.

By Peter Wagner, N’West Iowa Review

We have great empathy for the Sheldon woman who was cheated out of $16,000 recently.
She fell victim to a scam on Facebook, according to Sheldon police chief Lyle Bolkema. She thought a cousin had contacted her and told her she was the winner of a $90,000 sweepstakes grant — but there were a few requirements.
First she was asked for $2,000, which she paid. Realizing their deception was working, the crooks asked for another $7,500, and then $6,500 more.
It was only after all the money was gone, never to be retrieved, that she learned there was no $90,000 prize. Someone had tricked her into believing they were her cousin, and she was the latest victim in online or telephone scams.
The scammers h​ave cost people across the country, including a growing list in Sheldon, thousands of dollars. The woman refused to accept the advice of staffers at two banks ​who warned her, and said she was not aware of the number of scams that attempt to steal money from people through such deceptive and deplorable tactics.
Bolkema has sounded the alarm numerous times, and local media, including The Sheldon Mail-Sun and The N’West Iowa REVIEW, have attempted to inform people of the con men and women who seek to prey upon people online or through phone calls.
This latest victim said she had no knowledge of that, since she does not read local newspapers or follow other local media. She paid a costly price for that choice.
There are tremendous benefits to reading a newspaper, and not just in warnings of potential scams or news of other crimes committed in the area.
While there is a belief that newspapers are endangered species, we are feeling rather robust. Of course, we’re biased, but we recommend you read a paper for many reasons, including:
Government news: You need to know what the city, our schools, county government and other public entities are doing. Good, bad or routine, it’s worth your time, especially since you’re the one paying for it.
Informed opinion and comment: The Sheldon Mail-Sun invests space, time and resources into providing an Opinion page that offers an editorial, columns and letters to the editor. We seek to provide balanced views that allow you to become informed whole offering space, at no cost, for you to respond. We believe that’s a crucial role newspapers play in the American experiment, and one protected by the Constitution.
Community news: Who gave birth? Who died? Who was married and who is engaged? The newspaper documents the events of the day, providing the first history of our town.
Local sports: Who won and why? Who lost and what happened? What records were set and what inspiring events occurred in Sheldon? Who is coaching the team and what is the next big event on the schedule?
You can follow your favorite athlete or team through the newspaper and no other source will provide the information you want.
Entertainment: The Sheldon Mail-Sun runs photos, feature stories and columns that inform and delight our readers, with Millie Vos revealing the story behind our history, Ty Rushing providing humorous and interesting personal stories and other columnists offering cooking tips, religious comments and other input. The paper provides you with information you may not have to have — but you’re glad to learn and see.
Advertising? What’s on sale? Are there coupons for items you need or want to buy? What new products are being offered? What new business opened?
Newspapers remain an incredible bargain, and the information available in display and classified advertising can make it a profitable purchase for you.
There are numerous other reasons to pick up a newspaper and become informed. It may help you learn of a scam that could cost you a great deal of money, too.

Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. This free monthly GET REAL newsletter is written exclusively for State and National Press Associations and distributed by them to their members. To get Wagner’s free PAPER DOLLARS email newsletter for publishers, editors and sales managers email him at The two monthly email newsletters contain information completely different than found in Wagner’s monthly Publisher’s Auxiliary column. Wagner can be contacted by emailing or calling his cell at 712-348-3550.

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