Why I love small town newspapers

Why I love small town newspapers
$1.50 an issue is too much for me.

By Chuck Woodbury
ROADSIDE JOURNAL
I love to read small town newspapers. For many years, I would buy one or two a day. The crime reports were often hilarious. One of my favorites was in a small newspaper in Northern California. It listed both “Fire Calls” and “Police Calls.” 

Right there, in black and white, was this report: “Fire Department responded to a fire.” Now that seemed normal enough, until I read further. It turned out the fire was a potato chip bag aflame on a sidewalk. I am not kidding!

Small town papers 15 years ago were still 25 cents. I always had a quarter or two in my pocket. I’d drop one in a newsstand whenever I passed. But now, they’re $1 or even $1.50! I never carry that many quarters! And I know full well that what you get for your hard-earned money is often only 8 or 10 pages. Not a good value.

But yesterday, I popped for $1 for the Buffalo Beacon. I hoped to learn about the upcoming solar eclipse. What were the locals planning? Well, there was plenty of information, but nothing new except I learned here in Buffalo we will see 97 percent of the total eclipse. I also learned that I should stay off the crowded highways. 

THERE WAS SOME OTHER INTERESTING INFO. For example I learned that the “Speed Demon of the Week,” was Scott Irvine of Calgary, Alberta, who was caught traveling 94 miles per hour in a 75 mph zone. He was fined $195.

Mrs. Townsend’s want list.

I also learned that if I wanted to head over to the Senior Center I could partake of lunch of fish sticks, tomato and zucchini, macaroni and cheese and a dessert of Jell-O Whip. Meanwhile, at the elementary schools, next Thursday the kids will dine on a ham and cheese dinner roll, vegetable of the day, fruit of the day, Rice Krispies treat and milk.

What I found fascinating was that local FFA and 4-H members sold 155 animals at auction for a total of $305,510. Now, that is not bad! I think I may buy a cow, fatten it up, and make some major dinero.

I learned, sadly, that Lenore Pauline Cosslett Long had died at age 102. I guess I should not be sad because 102 is a very long life. I should be so lucky. Her obituary said, “Granny Long is remembered for making the best Christmas cookies, angel food cake, and her love of playing the piano.” I bet she was really nice!

Finally, I learned what every elementary school teacher wants for his or her class this new semester. Mrs. Townsend, for example, needs 24 pencils, a big eraser and one box of Kleenex (plus some other things).

That’s what I learned in the Buffalo Beacon. A dollar well spent? Me thinks, yes!

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3 thoughts on “Why I love small town newspapers

  1. Lyn

    I spent most of my working career at small-town newspapers, starting when the price was a mere quarter (wasn’t that just last year??) 🙂

    Most of my employers were Mom-and-Pop organizations, which IMHO are the very best. (My first employer left a lucrative career at the Wall Street Journal to move to Oregon and start his own 1,500-circulation hometown paper. At age 20, I couldn’t have had a better teacher.)

    We published what we knew the locals were passionate about, since we lived there, too; we were not a faraway corporation with no sense of community.

    As far as the $300,000+ raised by the 4-H kids, I had to chuckle, Chuck. 🙂 These are our kids, whether we are related to them or not, and the entire community supports them. Including really, really paying up for our beef and pork!

    Great article, sir. Keep ’em coming; they’re never boring. 🙂

  2. Sheridan Ball

    I love local papers! They can give you a genuine sense of the community. Is it an artistic town? What major events or activities happen to be going on while we’re there. Since I’m a retired musician, I’m always on the lookout for live music. And, of course, I thoroughly enjoy the editorials and letters to the editor which focus on genuine, sometimes passionate local concerns. I too want to support these small town papers so they can continue to represent that special part of the fabric of rural American.

  3. Ellen

    I’m with you, Chuck! Newspaper prices have gone crazy, but since the small town paper I earned my first professional freelance fees from (at the ripe age of 16) went all-digital, I’ve slipped hundreds of dollars in quarters into machines or plunked them on restaurant and gas station counter tops. As you say, nothing else gives you local insight the way the newspaper does. Plus we’re making small donations that will hopefully keep them around a little while longer. As full-timers, we learn a lot about a community from them — local events, level of crime, where to shop, among other things.

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