Even today, community newspapers are relevant

Published 12:48 am Saturday, September 13, 2008

I recently had the honor and privilege of addressing the Butler County Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) at the Walnut Street Church of Christ. My topic was the newspaper business and my program was short and sweet. By no means am I a public speaker, but really the ins and outs of working as the editor of a newspaper could fill many more hours than needed. A lot of what we do is exciting and interesting. A lot of what we do is tedious and monotonous. I suppose it’s the same in any business.

I’ll paraphrase some portions of my topic with the AARP here:

A big part of my job is satisfaction. You’ve heard the phrase in reference to the Peace Corps – “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love?” Well, for those people who have “ink in their blood”, as my predecessor Mr. Gene Hardin would say, that statement rings as just as true.

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Fellow Alabamian and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg once said the beauty of being a journalist is that every day you’re faced with a blank page; a canvas upon which to create. The tragedy, he said, is that your creation doesn’t live past one day.

Then it becomes liner for the trash can. Or packing for shipments to friends and family. Or padding to protect the dishes when you move homes.

But I beg to differ with Mr. Bragg on that last statement. Especially as it concerns community newspapers like The Advocate.

To illustrate:

When my grandmother Neva Palmer died, one of the things we came into possession of was a stack of photo albums. Five, six or seven of them. But there were no photos inside; there were newspaper clippings, carefully pasted into place. And not just newspaper clippings of family, but of people she knew, people she had passed in every walk of life. Pastors she’d met from church revivals or homecomings. Doctors who’d treated her. Weddings of friends. School photos of children she knew from Vacation Bible School.

That’s why I believe what we do is important at The Advocate.

What we do is saved. Parents clip out the records of their child’s academic and athletic accomplishments. Grandmothers clip out the birth announcements of their grandchildren. Newlyweds clip out their engagement and wedding announcements. Business owners clip out the photos of their ribbon cuttings and frame them. Feature stores – written about the numerous unique individuals and place in our community – are clipped out and saved for prosperity.

Even in today’s age of the World Wide Web, fast news on CNN and Headline News, Fox, MSNBC, and daily newspapers like the New York Times and USA Today, The Advocate and this community is relevant.

We’re in the business of preserving your memories.

Kevin Pearcey is the Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers LLC.