In One Small Prairie Town, Two Warring Visions of America

Wolter also understands that lots of people write him off as a conspiracy monger. However hes even more complicated.

Instead, he talks happily about the Monitor-News: how it prints letters to the editor that are harshly vital of it; how he reports the reality even if it costs him.

Ask around Benson, walk its three-block service district, and some would inform a various story: The Swift County Monitor-News, the tiny paper thats reported the news here since 1886, is not informing the fact. The vaccine is untested, they say, dangerous. And some will go further: People, theyll tell you, are being eliminated by COVID-19 vaccinations.
One little town. 3 thousand individuals. Two starkly different truths.

Still, there are times its stressful. And costly. With declining flow and advertisements, he approximates his three little local papers deserve at least $1 million less than a decade back.

Hes happy that his reporting ways something here, whether its a high-school award or a pricey structure project the community rejected after he composed about it.

Hes likewise specific that details “will never make it into the paper.”

His next-door neighbor, Jason Wolter, is a thoughtful, broad-shouldered Lutheran pastor who reads widely and measures his words thoroughly. He likewise suspects Democrats are using the coronavirus pandemic as a political tool, doubts President Joe Biden was legally chosen and is certain that COVID-19 vaccines kill people.

” Ten years ago I dont think anything like this would occur,” she said.

Area screaming matches are more common, a local officials vehicle was vandalized, and a “F– Biden” flag now flies along a school bus route. Collins and the town police chief both state they in some cases stress over Anfinsons safety.

Rather, he says, America and Benson are growing angrier.

Hes a careful reader, in his own method, whose house library includes whatever from Sophocles to “The Grapes of Wrath.”

“For much better or for even worse I dont actually rely on anything I read,” he says. The answer, he said, is research, probing the farthest corners of the web.

The vaccine is untested, they say, dangerous. Anfinson is everywhere in Swift County: the city council, the county commissioners, the school board and almost every other gathering of effect. That can cost you subscribers,” he said.

Pressman Todd Grewe stacks freshly printed copies of the The Swift County Monitor-News at Quinco Press in Lowry, Minnesota.
In one house is Reed Anfinson, publisher, editor, photographer and reporter for the Monitor-News. Most weeks, he composes every story on the papers front page.

Plenty has changed.

” Youre lying to individuals,” he says. “You flat-out lie about things.”

Wolters frustration boils over throughout a late breakfast in a town cafe. Seated with a press reporter, he begins talking as if Anfinson is there.

Its another measure of how Americas departments do not just play out on cable tv.

The answers are not to be found, he firmly insists, in the Swift Country Monitor-News.

The Anfinson and Wolter families get along, at least outwardly. When they see each other, they wave. When one household runs out town, the other will often see their house.

Bartenders typically greet consumers by name. The towns coffee shops seem like high school lunchrooms, with individuals wandering between tables to state hello. Many farms and companies have been owned by the very same families for decades. Anfinsons family has actually been here for generations.

He criticizes conservative politicians for attempting to make it illegal to burn the American flag, for instance, and concerns that his conservative viewpoints might sway what he sees as the truth.

It has permeated into the American fabric, all the way to Bensons 12th Street, where two neighbors– each in his own clean, century-old house– can live in different worlds.

The towns coffee shops feel like high school lunchrooms, with people wandering in between tables to say hello.” There are a lot of people coming through that I dont acknowledge,” said Terri Collins, Bensons cheerful mayor, whose family has actually been in Benson for five generations.

He hasnt seen the death certificates and hasnt called health authorities, but hes sure the vaccine deaths occurred: “I just know that Im doing their funeral services.”

” Were still personalized,” Wolter says. “I simply dont trust him.”

Anfinson is everywhere in Swift County: the city council, the county commissioners, the school board and nearly every other event of consequence. Hes there for school performances, neighborhood fund-raisers, the county fair. His white Jeep is frequently spattered with mud from the countys dirt roads.

” There are a lot of people coming through that I dont acknowledge,” said Terri Collins, Bensons pleasant mayor, whose family has actually been in Benson for five generations. “I used to know all of my next-door neighbors and now thats various. And I dont know what to blame for that.”

He is 67 but looks at least a decade more youthful. A reflective guy who delicately prices estimate Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town documents that have gone under.

It can be simple, taking a look around Benson, to believe it is a land that time forgot.

The newspaper hit the front patios of the wind-scarred meadow town on a Thursday afternoon: Coronavirus numbers were spiking in western Minnesota.
” Covid-19 cases straining rural clinics, health centers, personnel,” read the front-page heading. Vaccinate to safeguard yourselves, health authorities prompted.

His newspaper must bind people together, he says.

While his editorials lean left, he works difficult to report the news directly. But in an America of completing visions, some here state he has taken sides.
No place in the Monitor-News, for instance, will you find reports that local people are passing away because theyve been inoculated.
” There are no alternative facts,” Anfinson states. “There is simply the truth.”
Whose truth?

” The easy part is speaking fact to power. The tough part is speaking fact to your community. That can cost you marketers. That can cost you customers,” he said.

On 12th street, things are civil.

Anfinson, for his part, doesnt desire to discuss Wolter, a minimum of not straight. Hes viewed Bensons vulnerable web of neighborhood fray too much.

As soon as, neighborliness and excellent manners were near-commandments here. Now anger is on the increase.

Today, long time residents can sometimes feel unmoored.

Swift Countys population has actually dropped about 30 percent since 1960, and now has about 10,000 homeowners. The county is now 87% white– far whiter than much of America, however far more diverse than a generation earlier.

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