October 2-8, 2011 was National Newspaper Week, a time in which to celebrate the great addition to our daily diet of reading material: the local newspaper.
Ours is the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, a wonderful format for passing on the news and views of the folks of Bedford County.
When I first came to work at the Times-Gazette, Kay Rose was the managing editor. She was a great mentor to this fledgling staff writer, and she helped me to "fake" my way through my first feature articles, doctoring my stories as needed, and telling me I was doing a good job.
She would remind us frequently that ours was a local newspaper and we needed to focus on local news. Over the years, I have found that to be exactly what our readers wanted: local news about local people.
The Times-Gazette is our newspaper.
I've learned that people read their home town newspaper for a variety of reasons.
One solemn older man told me that he gets the local paper mainly to read the obituaries. He said he wants to see if anyone he knows has passed away. I imagine a lot of folks turn to the obituaries first, as a way of keeping up with others they may have lost contact with.
Another fellow told me he looks at the obituaries to make sure he's not in there.
Mark Twain supposedly said, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." He may have seen his name in the obits. That would be quite shocking.
One editor that I worked for thought that the front page was the most important part of the paper. He said that the front page needed to catch the customer's eye in order to sell the paper.
I've talked to people that barely glance at the front page. They turn immediately to the sports page, the jail intake, the classifieds, or the crossword puzzle.
I even have had people tell me that the first thing they look at on Sunday is my column in the Life and Leisure section, Musings and Memories. (I hope you're reading this!)
I was visiting with a woman in the nursing home one day who told me that the highlight of her day was getting the Times-Gazette delivered to her room. She said she would read the paper from front to back, devouring its contents. She loved her local paper and the local news. It was about the only way she had of keeping track of what was going on in the world outside her room.
I personally start at the front page and work my way, page by page, toward the back, just to see what is going on in Shelbyville and Bedford County. I am one of those people that really enjoy my local paper.
When I went to work at the T-G in 2005, I was excited to meet the writers whose names I saw in the bylines every day. They were local celebrities as far as I was concerned.
There was Kay Rose of course, and John Carney, Clint Confehr, David Melson, Sherri Frame, Danny Parker and Brian Mosely. Each of those people was great to work with and they taught me so much. Clint told me that I was the oldest "cub reporter" he'd ever met. I was thrilled to be allowed into the newsroom where I was given my own desk, my own camera, a notebook and a pencil. And Kay told me to get to work.
I have met so many wonderful people in the community as a result of my time at the Times-Gazette, and it has been such a privilege. Shelbyville and Bedford County are filled with so many amazing people, and I know most of you read this newspaper.
I am so thankful that I have the honor to write for our local paper. Believe me when I say, I am celebrating National Newspaper Week.
Read on Shelbyville! This is your news!
Long live the local newspaper!
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.