IT’S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WEEK and so it is not bragging if I write about this newspaper in the column this week, is it?
The venerable ‘Nashville News’ was more than 140 years old. The upstart ‘Nashville Leader’ was formed in 2003, much younger. Now ‘we’ are one.
At one time this county had a bunch of newspapers. Mineral Springs Vim. Dierks Banner. Nashville Spotlight. Bingen had newspapers. Just about every community had one.
Everyone knows that newspapers are struggling and closing. We are doing things to make us more interesting to young people, and to make it impossible for older folks to put us aside.
Still, it’s a battle. New generations (if they read at all) like to read on a screen. And their attention span isn’t as long as their parents.’ Older generations gripe about subscription costs. But we feel strongly enough about what we do, that we keep doggedly trying.
I saw a survey recently that said, nationally, more than half of the local news that gets covered is by hometown newspapers. It’s still higher than Facebook or some of the internet ‘news’ sites. And let me tip my cap to our local radio stations that are out there generating and promoting local news.
We try to be entertaining and educational. I love ‘Early Files,’ an unblinking reprint of long ago news items from the ‘Nashville News.’ And Baxter Black, the cowhand who writes a humorous agri-related column. But we’ve also got the White Cliffs News column (what we used to call country correspondent), and Jean Ince’s most-informative piece. I won’t mention Mine Creek Revelations. State correspondent Brenda Blagg (one of my old UA classmates) appears regularly on our opinion page. We regularly print columns by the governor, the attorney general and our local state senator. And letters-to-the-editor if they are not frivolous, libelous or obscene.
We try to give people news that they might not get elsewhere. It’s not all good — we print court dockets, and what goes on in criminal courts. One of our unwritten rules about printing bad news is that the story about someone being found ‘not guilty’ gets a headline just as big as the one that announced they were charged.
We print the public record. Everything from marriage licenses issued, to domestic orders of protection to keep warring spouses apart. It’s not good news when someone is sued for debt. We’re sympathetic but we don’t flinch.
I used to get calls begging me not to print ‘Joe Blow fined for possession of marijuana’ in the court docket. “You’re gonna kill Grandma if she sees that,” the complainer said. My answer was that he should just go ahead and tell Grandma before the paper comes out. Chances are someone will tell her anyway.
Same with divorces. We take no pleasure printing that news, but we feel it is our duty to print the whole public record.
That’s not the only kind of bad news. Unlike our journalist cousins in big markets, we often write sad or negative news stories about our friends and relatives. The big city boys might write the same kind of stories, but their stories are probably not about the guy who lives two doors down, or who parks beside you in the church parking lot on Sundays or who was in your graduating class.
We understand how important it is that someone is printing obituaries. If you read our paper regularly it should come as no surprise that we cover school events with energy and enthusiasm. It’s the best way for us to be in contact with the young families of the community.
We try to promote the good news, also. We are glad to publicize church and club events, like this week’s article about an extension homemaker club in Center Point sponsoring a blood donor drive. Like the recent flu shot clinic. Like the Single Parents Scholarship Fund. The Golden Gathering. Relay for Life. Class and family reunions.
There’s so much good news, and so many good events to promote.
If you’re reading this, we thank you for your support, and ask that you continue.
We will strive to cover our community as if it is the most important place on earth.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. Perhaps in my ignorance I have written recently about the absence of birds singing a welcome to the dawn. I was afraid that they were dying off. But then it rained. Almost immediately the songbirds announced that they were here all along. Their throats must have been parched.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: Why do businesses have signs, ‘Guide Dogs Only?’ The dogs can’t read and their owners are blind.
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WORD GAMES. Another set of twins: Sand and Gravel. Can’t hardly build anything without them. They’re often seen out by the concrete company.
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HE SAID: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and travel writer.
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SHE SAID: “I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” Marla Gibbs, African-American actress and television producer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby