All throughout the U.S. of A., small town weekly newspapers are going bankrupt.
The Sad Farewell to the Small Town Weekly
By Richard Mabey Jr.
The small town weekly newspapers in America are fading fast. They are becoming endangered species. I love small town weekly papers. I’ve had well over a thousand articles published in various small town weekly papers, as well as the big dailies. But, my true love is the small town weekly. In the small town weekly, you can print the story that the big dailies often stick their nose up at.
Small town weeklies, for the most part have small offices. Generally speaking, the entire office is one room. Sometimes, if the paper is printed on-site, there will be a back room for the printing press. There is something incredibly quaint and charming about the office of a small town newspaper. Frankly, you just cannot find that down home feeling in the office of a big daily newspaper.
The small town weeklies generally have their office downtown, on the Main Street of Squirrel Valley or Oakwood Park or Mountain View or Old Beavertown or Anytown, USA. They’re often sandwiched between the hardware store and the barber shop. I’ve often thought that they are located next to these two businesses because that’s where the real small town news originates from.
A lot of small town weeklies will have an old printing press in the backroom. Even if they don’t use it any more, it is looked upon as a testament of their golden heritage. You can’t stand on ceremony when you work for a small town newspaper. You have to write, edit, sell ads and roll up your sleeves and get ink underneath your fingernails. It’s just the way it is, working for a small town newspaper.
Small town newspapers are mostly sold in sweet shops, old time drug stores and luncheonettes. Sometimes they’re sold in barber shops. It’s basically places where people gather, have fellowship, kid around and shake each other’s hands. Incidentally most small town folks do not “high-five” or give each other “fist-bump” handshakes. No, in small towns people still shake hands the old fashioned way. Sorry, that’s not so hip, but that’s how they do things in small towns.
Over the years, I’ve worked on at least a half-dozen small town weeklies. For a couple of years, I actually owned a small town weekly, The Lincoln Park Journal. Small town weeklies often get more details on the specifics of a town council decision than a lot of the big dailies do. The small town weekly editor and reporter often have a better sixth sense of the heart of Squirrel Valley, than the editor of a big daily paper does. Sorry, if this sounds harsh, but alas it’s the truth.
At the present time, I am living in one of these gated communities in Central Florida. The small town weekly is one of the things that I miss about living in a small town. It’s one of those things that you often take for granted. But then when it’s gone, you miss it so. So, to all the folks who work on small town weeklies, I give you a most earnest salute!