Rewards of small town journalism


Raylyn Bowers, Blogger

One of my recent weeks was tough. Nothing seemed to go right. I struggled with getting the newspaper finished in time to send to the press, I got behind in schoolwork because of that, and the cycle continued all week long.

Before I was offered this job at the newspaper, I was already registered for summer and fall classes. During the summer, I took 12 hours. This semester, I am juggling 18 hours while running a newspaper. The job fell into my lap at the most inopportune time, but it was such an amazing opportunity, that I couldn’t turn it down.

My job can be challenging at times, and as we all know, college is not just a walk in the park. While my job may be challenging, the rewards are endless. This particular week, I did not have a day off. I worked in the office all week, then on Friday, I had football games to cover, Saturday, I had a woman’s 99th birthday party to attend and a Gala for the Swisher Memorial Hospital to cover, and on Sunday, I had a 75th anniversary to go to.

While these may not be the big, glamorous, change-your-career-forever kinds of stories, I believe that you have to learn to cover the small stories with precision before a reporter can be trusted with a big story.

I live in a small town and run a small town newspaper. The stories that go in the newspaper are usually happy stories. Stories of little league games, couples getting married, and businesses opening are usual suspects in the newspaper. However, one of the biggest obstacles I have had to contend with is not the reporting, or knowing whom to contact for stories, or even getting people to talk to me. My biggest obstacle every week is the advertising and the legal notices.

Selling ads is one of my least favorite duties, but it has to be done. Also, legal notices, citations by publication, and any other legal document that has to be in the newspaper makes me nervous. After making sure the document is correct or, if I have to build the ad, the wording is correct, then I have to tear out a page of the printed newspaper and take that along with a publisher’s affidavit to have notarized. After that is done, I have to take it to the correct office from which the notification was sent.

While my job is stressful, and paired with school it is quite daunting, I love what I do. The best feeling is when someone from the town comes up to me and tells me how much they love reading the paper. I have been sent cards and flowers, and I have people come into the office all the time just to give me some words of encouragement.

Small towns may have their drawbacks, and yes, I really only get a dose of “small town” reporting working for this newspaper, but it is a lovely feeling to know how many people I influence every week.