Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 9, 2014

Community newspapers part of our history

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — Are newspaper heading for extinction? Let's hope not. Nothing can take the place of reading your morning paper with a cup of hot of coffee.

I can remember as a kid my dad reading the sports section, while my mother read over the national news and clipping recipes from the paper.  Us kids – all we wanted was the comics. We always had a newspaper sitting on our coffee table.

I have said this before, but it is worth repeating. Times are changing. I agree the larger metro newspapers don't have much to offer, but give me a small community paper any time. Where else will you see little Johnny playing basketball, or Susie in the play at Henderson County Performing Arts Center. Not to mention who won the 42 tournament at the Mabank Senior Citizens building.

They say the Internet is where people will get their news in the future. But can you fill your child's scrap book with links to the Internet? Years from now, those links won't even exist. Your newspaper clipping will still be in the scrap book.

 I have newspapers that date back to 1970s. I am sure there are people who have papers even older than I do. 

In 1989, Nolan Ryan struck out his 500th person. I have that paper. The Dallas Times Herald made a collector’s edition. Sure you can find the same information on the Internet, but my paper is from 1989. Still in great shape.

The Dallas Morning News did a special section when President John F. Kennedy had been dead 25 years. I have that section. He has now been gone 50 years.

The Dallas Times Herald went out of business in 1991. I have about five copies of the last paper they printed. Of course, I had to keep that edition – my name was in it. The paper printed the names of all the employees on staff at the time of closure.

There are many reasons to love the community paper, but for me its because it is a community paper. I had a gentleman come in the paper on Wednesday to thank me for the story I did about his wife who recently passed away. He is one of the reasons I love community journalism.

Of course, like with any profession, there are downfalls to journalism. I would like to think  our readers know how important it is for us to cover as much of the local news as possible. I have had comments about some of the national news or politics we may not  cover. 

Believe me, that is not intentional. As I have said, we are a community paper. That national news you can find in other forms of media. But who is running for Henderson County Commissioner? You will only find this in your local media.

The Review does rely some on social media to get our word out, but we rely much more on the printed paper. Recently, I posted on the Review Facebook page about a traffic accident. The Review was working on the story. A person reading our Facebook page let me know that was not appropriate to post on Facebook.

Unfortunately, as sad as that accident was, it still was local news. That's what we do – cover local news. It was not intended to make anyone feel bad, but intended to let the public know we are working on gathering information about what happened.

The majority of the calls and e-mails we receive at the paper are about carnage happening in Henderson County. Even bad news, is news.

Next time you want to complain about your local paper, think about all the good the paper does for the community, and remember that this newspaper that has been here over 100 years. It is part of the history of Henderson County.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me about newspapers. Only time will tell.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer with the Athens Daily Review.