April 8, 2021
Writing has been a main interest of mine for many years. As a high school senior at ole Burr Oak High, I took a journalism class. Our teacher was Mrs. Mildred Mullins and she ran a “tight ship.” Everything went by the “book.” I don’t know if all high schools now offer a journalism class , but I hope they do for anyone who has an interest in writing.
We had a snappy school paper that came out weekly. It was called “The Tomahawk,” which fit in with our school mascot, the Braves. A senior classmate of mine, Donna Dye, was the editor of the paper. Everyone else in the class was assigned a job putting the paper together. Some sold ads, some printed the paper, some typed the pages to be printed, and some did the reporting of social activities and sports. I was one of the social reporters. There wasn’t any heavy national or state news in this little three sheet, notebook paper size school paper. It was filled with information about what was going on in the town and school. The printing was done on an Mimeograph machine where the crank had to be turned and paper was fed in. We went through a lot of ink.
Mid school year preparations began on creating a yearbook, “The Pow Wow.” A senior classmate, Sherry Fearing, and myself were assigned to be the editors. We felt the weight of the world as we put our heads together figuring out things from what color and the design work on the cover, who the yearbook would be dedicated to, and many other subjects too numerous to mention. Photos had to be taken, interviews had to be made with all the seniors, teachers and administration. The clip art had to be chosen and added to every page, ads had to be sold, and all had to be done on time. All had to have the approval of Mrs. Mullins. I have many good memories of this class.
After taking a creative writing class later in my life, my writing interests were stirred again. Then came an offer to become a reporter and writer for the local newspaper. At first I wasn’t sure about the whole idea but thankfully I began the journey, first on a part-time basis. Then a place opened for a full-time position. I jumped in feet first and that adventure lasted more than10 years. Now that I am retired, I only do special stories and write this column.
I’ve learned working with the local newspaper how important the paper really is to the communities it serves and beyond. Some people may take their local newspaper for granted but recently I received a letter of appreciation that stirred my thoughts on this matter. The local weekly newspaper strives to keep its readers informed of the important happenings. There is local government news, school activities, obituaries, birth announcements, weddings and showers. Unless the obits are extra lengthy, or have a picture, they are run at no cost. Sales and auctions appear in the paper, editorials and letters to the editor, church happenings, town celebration updates, women’s club reports, 4-H happenings, accident reports, county fair reports and photos, all fill the pages. Then there are the special birthday card showers, anniversary celebrations, and other event happenings that keep people informed and up to date. There are opportunities for local columns to appear sharing tidbits about each town or community. The local newspaper is also important to those that came from the area but now live far away.
Staff members, correspondents, advertisements and subscriptions are what keeps the newspapers going. Think how it would be in our rural communities if there wasn’t a local newspaper anymore. Let’s all support and give credit to our local newspapers!