« So Many Opinions, So Little Time

Time for righteous indignation: USA Today makes fun of Fargo

by Mike McFeely

USA Today, the nation's newspaper, has a blurb today about USA Curling offering a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to our town to one lucky winner so that person can attend the Olympic team trials.

The trip is a public-relations stunt by USA Curling, and a pretty good one at that. I mean, it's curling. If they can get some free publicity in USA Today, good on them.

The article reads, in part

During your four nights at the Holiday Inn Fargo, you'll mingle with Olympic hopefuls. Plus there will be a photo op with the infamous woodchipper from Fargo and a possible coffee date with Donna the Deer Lady. 

There is just a touch of sarcasm, which we should expect. We're Fargo. We're used to it.

You can read the entire article here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/08/06/dream-trip-fargo-nd-usa-curling-fargo-fandango/2625177/ 

What I hope doesn't happen, which used to happen quite regularly, is that Fargo's media or convention and visitors bureau gets all bent out of shape at the sarcastic tone of the article and tries to make a big deal out of it.

It used to be that anytime Fargo received national publicity that wasn't glowing -- and it usually wasn't glowing -- the powers-that-be would invite the offending person or persons to town to show them just how wonderful Fargo is. It usually led to the "offenders" going back to their warm home states or dynamic large cities (or both) and saying, "Yeah, the people there are really nice ... but it's still Fargo, North Dakota, for God's sake."

My favorite story comes from my days at The Forum newspaper in Fargo. A columnist from the Fort Worth, Texas, newspaper named Pat Truly included a throwaway one-liner in one of his articles that took a cheap shot at Fargo. The city could've just as easily been any other remote small city anywhere in the U.S. But for whatever reason, he chose Fargo. Probably closed his eyes and pointed at a map and, voila, his finger landed on Fargo.

Anyway, he cheap-shotted Fargo in some way and the executive types at The Forum got all worked up. One of the newsroom managers, the late Terry DeVine I think, wrote a column ripping Mr. Truly. Then the newspaper invited Truly to Fargo, on the company's dime, to wine and dine him for a couple of days and show him just how super-duper Fargo was. He accepted.

While Truly was getting a tour of The Forum newsroom, he was introduced to all the employees. Most of us just said, "Nice to meet you. Welcome to Fargo," and went on with our day. But Dave Kolpack, who was then employed as the smart-aleck sports columnist (I later replaced him), shook Mr. Truly's hand and said, "Boy, I bet you wish you would've made fun of Honolulu if you knew you were going to get an all-expense-paid vacation out of this."

It was good for a laugh. And let the newsroom execs know that we peons were less-than-pleased The Forum was spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to assuage some guy from Texas who wrote one mildly offensive line about Fargo.

Truly, if I recall, went back to Fort Worth and wrote, "Yeah, the people there are really nice ... but it's still Fargo, North Dakota, for God's sake." 

I hope Fargo has grown past being so easily offended. We're Fargo. It's cold, flat and windy. We like it here. Isn't that enough?

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)