Some of my best memories of my dad is with a newspaper in his hands. My father loved his newspapers. And, God bless him, he wanted to read it on a broadsheet strewn across the kitchen table, with a cup of coffee steaming nearby.
Because of him, I grew up reading newspapers. From the time I was old enough to spread the then-behemoth pages out in front of me I absorbed every sentence in the collection of eight publications brought into our home.
Plus, I’d read the Farm Journal, the Wallace Farmer, Farm Wife News and something called the Wall Street Journal - the newspaper my father would bring home from the “Windy City” of Chicago after we shipped our cattle to the livestock yards.
Newspaper people, I believed, were bigger and brighter than anyone. While most of the girls in my high school class wanted to be nurses or teachers, I wanted to be more like Erma Bombeck or Katharine Graham.
I wasn’t cut out to be the nurse or the teacher. I haven’t the temperament nor bedside manner. I knew, from the time I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a newspaper person.
It was that visit to the daily newspaper, seeing the old AP wire machine ticking away in the newsroom and the presses rolling that piqued my interest. Plus I just loved the smell of ink on fresh newsprint.
Not having a printing press here, at times I wish I would have bottled that smell and brought it with me. Like my many of friends who are journalists, we knew early on we wanted to work at a newspaper. Others joined our newspaper staff because they were intrigued by the newspaper’s mystique or because they wanted to be part of business that was everchanging.
In many ways, my dream came true. I have enjoyed a wonderful career, which included stints at several newspapers, in five different states. At each of those locations, I’ve made many life-long friends and met some very interesting characters.
For those of you who haven’t been in this office, it is the quintessential small town newspaper of yore, minus the now politically incorrect tobacco smoke hanging over the newsroom. There are stacks of newspapers, a collection of really quirky, funny folks who choose to yell instead of using the phone intercoms at times, have weird unidentifiable objects on their desks or, in my case, a 10-point buck hanging on my wall.
But what the heck, we manage here at El Defensor Chieftain and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is comforting to be here.
Newspapers, as you know, have changed a lot. But the people who work at El Defensor Chieftain are great people who work diligently to get the news and advertising into your hands every week. Every day, we gather the facts and figures (good and bad), record the deaths and births, snap photos of your children and grandchildren, and report the victories and losses of county sporting events. We do this with a tireless sense of humor.
As with all newspapers, the community gets frustrated with us from time to time. And that’s OK.
Every community thinks it owns the newspaper and in many ways it does. They love to hate their newspapers, expecting them to be accurate, delivered on time and full of wonderful information they can use and never, ever raise the price.
A part of my heart aches when I hear a newspaper has to close its doors or drop publication dates because of economic times. It’s happening in our country more and more because there are some readers who would rather rely on the gospel of social media and hearsay than a trusted source, like newspapers.
As I look around our office at the people who work here, they are wonderful folks who love what they do.
And so, whenever you think there’s nothing in your community newspaper anymore ... think again and know this: Everyone who works here at El Defensor Chieftain ... their hearts are in it.