Last year wasn't the best 12 months for anyone. However, it did reveal some important things about us.

We rally to support the community in hard times. Entrepreneurs find creative ways to keep their businesses running. Health care, scientists and researchers are heroes for working around the clock.

Another important factor made clear in 2020 was the significance of truth. Truth matters.

This was made clear at every level of our lives, from the national level to our homes in northern Minnesota. Whether it was related to the recent elections or the coronavirus pandemic, facts -- not misinformation -- is what made voters able to make knowledgeable decisions related to their choices on the ballot and in maintaining their health.

I believe that the truth that masks work, based on several scientific studies, has been critical in preventing the pandemic from becoming even worse than it is. And the truth that vaccines, a major scientific breakthrough thanks to researchers, are safe and well tested will help us put the pandemic behind us.

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This was also important with our elections in 2020, just as it has been for other cycles. Locally, thanks to the work at the offices of local media outlets like the Pioneer, Lakeland News and Paul Bunyan Broadcasting's Bemidji Now, residents knew who those were seeking city and county seats.

Now, I'm of course biased, having been a reporter for eight years. However, I can say with confidence that local journalism is important in getting the truth out. Yes, at times we make mistakes, but we're human after all

But we also fact check. We confirm. We research. We break out the highlighter for documents and use our pens to circle important details. We do this to make sure the truth gets out to the public, and that the truth will be available for generations to come.

The facts of who succeeded in the last elections, what was effective in beating the coronavirus, and more, is out there. Moving forward, journalists and non-journalists alike must remain aware of the importance of the truth, especially as more misinformation is shared on social media.

Matthew Liedke is a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, he can be reached at mliedke@bemidjipioneer.com.