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Newspaper Week

My Take

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I love newspapers. If you are reading this column, it probably means you share that love.  

As we celebrate the National Newspaper Week, it’s an appropriate time for me to reflect on the everchanging news business.  

Without ever realizing it, I was always meant to be involved in the newspaper business. I remember as a child sitting in one of the big, high-backed chairs at old Argie Cooper Public Library, reading, The New York Times.  

Our family always had a subscription to the Times-Gazette and my father usually bought a copy of the Sunday edition of The Tennessean. When I travelled with my family, I would buy the local papers whenever were visiting. I kept a scrapbook of articles I liked and the “flags,” the names of the papers, from the top of the front pages.

I spent my junior year in high school working for the Times-Gazette developing film and taking photos of everything from car wrecks to the aftermath of break-ins and other crimes for the late “Bo” Melson, my first mentor into the world of proper news coverage. In 1980, I would be back at the T-G, first as a summer intern, and later as the reporter covering the Shelbyville City Council and various features.  

Sue Allison, like Bo, taught me how to write through the generous use of a red pencil to mark my mistakes. Sue was a great newsperson with the uncanny knack of being able to localize a national or even international event to make it even more relevant for T-G readers.  

I never even remotely expected to one day be the editor of the T-G myself. For more than 20 years, I have college students, learning how to be better communicators as members of the media, another career path I never considered following. I was around when newspapers switched from hot type, which literally was hot metal formed into letters and lines of type to cold type which is type set by computers.  

I remember Bill Pilkington and Glen Winchester using hot type to set the pages of the paper. It was a fascinating process. During my college days of Lipscomb University, I would often buy a copy of the Nashville Banner, the afternoon paper read before dinner.  

Who knew I would one day work for the Banners as a sportswriter? I sadly remember the day the Banner printed its final edition on Feb. 20, 1998 with a large, bold headline proclaiming, “End of Story,” just one of a number of afternoon papers to close as the century was ending.  

While working for the Banner, one of my routines after church on Sunday mornings was to head to the old Mosko’s Muncheonette, a combination newsstand and sandwich shop. I would purchase the Sunday editions of the Atlanta Journal Constitution—if it was available. I would spend much of the day and evening pouring over the pages, much to the dismay and frustration to some who were close to me.  

I know newspapers are available online. I usually read the New York Post on the internet. But a web page isn’t a newspaper page. I like the feel of the paper. It doesn’t happen much anymore due to changes in ink, but I loved getting newsprint on my hands.  

Support the Times-Gazette and newspapers in general. Thomas Jefferson, former president of the United States, was not a fan of newspapers. But even he knew the importance of a free press to keep checks and balances on government. He wrote the following statement to a delegate of the Continental Congress. 

“If he had to choose between ‘a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  

I have a newspaper, no matter how it is delivered. But I prefer a printed one. I hope I will always be able to exercise that preference. 

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