Read All About It
For three years of my childhood, ages 6-9, I lived in a rural county in Indiana. No one walked to school; everyone was bused. The 911 service was not set up; you had to directly call the police or the fire department if you needed them. My second grade classmates invited me to see the pigs they raised for the county fair and I even signed up for 4H myself, though we didn’t stay long enough for me to really get into the program
After last year’s US Presidential election, there was a lot of talk about the widening gulf between rural and urban America, so as a current an urbanite, I decided to make an effort to go out of my way to at least consume media that I wouldn’t otherwise see. I subscribed to a local county newspaper of my short-lived rural childhood experience.
The newspaper itself is mainly concerned about local happenings. It is rare for national or global events to show up in it except in letters to the editor. Dependable columns include high school sports, marriage licenses, obituaries, a police beat, and a pastor’s weekly column. There are ads on the side for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Annual Turkey Dinner and Medicare Open Enrollment. Over the past year, bad news has included a house fire that killed a couple of young girls and a couple of local teen girls’ bodies being found dead and the police investigation into both crimes (the arson and the murders). I followed both of those stories for weeks/months as the community held vigils and fundraised for the families affected. The community’s excitement has extended to the new recycling plant being built nearby and the jobs it’ll create and praise has been to graduating students with scholarships and the local professional people who have been honored with rewards by Indiana professional organizations.
Reading this newspaper in my inbox every week has made me reflect on the news options in my current city. Yes, there is a lot of local news, but I don’t recall a ton about high school athletics or sewing drives for charity. While closely following another community, I’ve realized I’m not closely following my own. What are my local valedictorians up to? Where are the local blood drives? When is city council meeting and voting? It is so much easier to read about another place and imagine what it might be like to live there and ignore living in the place you are now.
This week I received an email asking me to continue my subscription after it expires at the end of this month. I’ll probably renew it and will have to find a good local-to-me newspaper to support as well. Local papers do a great service to our communities: keeping us together where we are.
Does your community have a local paper? Do you follow it?