Newspaper is for More than Fetching or Piddling on in the Country

Many people in the big cities think that traditional media is already dead.

What I’ve learned from living in the country is that it may be gasping for air in the city, but traditional media is alive and well in rural America.

The power of local traditional media was brought home a couple of weeks ago when my husband heard about those two lost Jack Russell Terriers on a popular daily local radio program.

Thanks to that program, the two dogs were home within a day.

This morning, while scanning the Lost and Found section of the classifieds, I realized the local media had brought home another dog, only according to the ad, this wasn’t a happy ending for the dog or his family.

For a few days, a Lost ad had been running with the photo of a beautiful 4-year-old red and white Australian Shepherd.

This morning, the ad changed to “Reward for information leading to the person(s) responsible for shooting our family dog,” with a photo of the same dog that was classified as “lost” in the previous days paper.

The new ad read that the dog, although wearing a collar, had been shot and dumped a ways from where the previous ad said it was lost. One can only assume someone found the dog’s body, recognized it from the Lost ad and notified the owner so they would know what happened to their beloved pet.

I’m not sure this would have happened in the city anymore. People I know in the cities now first turn to the Internet, launching Craig’s List ads and social media campaigns on Facebook to find pets. (We only recently started showing results for a local Craig’s List and Angie’s List does not yet exist here).

I’ve always said that our area is probably a good decade behind the urban areas of the U.S. in terms of technology. I know that our cell phone tower just recently upgraded to 3G when most of the populated areas of the country are on 4G already. We also just got very slow (probably early 2000-era) DSL that finally saved me from that cracking and whining sound of dial up.

It doesn’t allow for movie or television streaming, unless we have a full day to wait for it to download and even those short funny cat videos halt and start, stealing a few extra minutes from my breaks from work. And we only got it now because of a long, complicated story that involved me threatening our rural telephone company with a complaint to the FCC because they were bringing the lines to our neighbors and not us, but at least it isn’t dial up.

As for the newspapers, it isn’t as if the budget cuts affecting papers all over the country through the few publishing companies that still hold the news medium, hasn’t affected ours.

We only have one locally owned weekly paper that covers our county and most of the space in it is still dedicated to locally written gossip columns (guess who showed up at the church garage sale this week from far-off New York!?) and high school sports.

The larger daily – the one most people turn to for actual news – is in the next, larger county. It is owned by one of the huge publishing giants that hold most of the papers still in operation. Therefore, it covers most news outside of our two small closest towns (I was, at one time covering the government and school beat for this county, but that was cut from their budget last year). They still do have coverage, but it doesn’t allow for many features or non-hard news items from here.

Even so, it is the newspaper and radio we still turn to for “local” news and yes, even as I sit at my computer each day, I still typically pull out our small rural print phone book before I think to look up a telephone number on the Internet.

I suspect lower than average wages in rural communities have as much to do with the survival of local radio and newspaper in the country as do the slow Internet connections.

It will still be awhile before we, or our neighbors think to turn to the Internet before anything else, and that’s ok with us.

How long has it been since you used a print phone book or held a “real” newspaper in your hands?

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32 Responses

  1. Alisa Bowman says:

    I still read a paper newspaper, but I don’t use a paper phone book and I now read most of my books via Kindle. I just prefer to flip thru newspapers and magazines rather than read them on a tablet. Just me.

    • Kerri says:

      Me too, Alisa. While I have transitioned quite nicely to my books on Kindle, I haven’t been able to get used to reading all of my news online.

  2. Susan says:

    I cannot get past how sad it is that someone shot the family dog. I’m sure it’s not the first time, but it really bums me out!

    • Kerri says:

      Unfortunately, it happens all of the time here, Susan. That’s what happens when idiots have guns and I’ve decided at least 50 percent of people who have them here are. We are pro gun, do not get me wrong, but we are not for violating the laws as we see so often here.

  3. Kerry Dexter says:

    over the last five or six years, our local paper here has become a haven for poorly thought out ideas and not so great grammar, so I do not read it often, either online or in print. sometimes read print versions of other papers, though.

    when I am in Ireland, the town I’m in is too small for its own paper, but there are two from towns not far away (one in the north and one in the republic, so differing news) which I read, and I read the big city papers there and in Scotland too.

    • Kerri says:

      Unfortunately, the grammar and errors are mostly due to the cutbacks papers have made, which has allowed papers to run with literally a skeleton staff. It is sad.

  4. Sheryl says:

    Right before I read this. I was telling my husband that I missed our local paper, which we no longer subscribe to. There’s no substitution for the ‘real’ thing in print.

    • Kerri says:

      Exactly how I feel. I don’t have a paper on Monday mornings as our weekend paper comes out on Saturday and I read that one on Sunday mornings. I sure miss it!

  5. I read a paper–a real paper every morning. Can beat it. I also get our local paper. Love to read about others who still appreciate papers.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    I’ve found myself yearning for a paper newspaper lately, though we don’t subscribe to our local daily anymore. Will have to think about that for the coming year…

  7. I don’t subscribe to the newspaper any more, but I do check out the phone book. Funny, when I saw your headline, I thought you were going to talk about what I miss about the newspaper–kindling for fires, insulation, drop cloth (as someone said), and window wash cloth. Not the content.

  8. I received an email from a newspaper friend this week, alerting everyone that after 38 years she is “retiring.” It put me into a tailspin of sorts. She is nearly the last person I know who still works at a traditional newspaper … the one that ran my work for 6+ years earlier in my career. Her note renewed how much I miss real newspaper work. There isn’t anything like it, and if it truly goes away, I’m sad for our society.

    • Kerri says:

      I had that same reality check these past three years, Roxanne, as most of the people I knew who worked at real papers were laid off. I know no one anymore and I think it is sad. I will always miss my newspaper reporting days. For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was write for the papers. It is sad.

  9. Sheryl says:

    We no longer subscribe to a pay version of the newspaper, and only read the weekly free version that’s delivered to our mailbox (with the weekly news synopsis). Not getting the paper has really cut down on the paper recycling in the house. But that thin weekly paper does come in handy for covering the floor for painting, and other “drop cloth” jobs.
    I do read local, next town over, national news on the internet all the time. And speaking of phone books– has anyone noticed how much thinner and smaller they are getting?

    I find that better than a phone book is calling someone who lives in the area and asking them who they use for a service. I get much better results than what is printed in a phonebook or on the internet. — And I haven’t looked up a phone number in a phone book in ages. But I do have the YellowPages app on my iphone.

    • Kerri says:

      The phone book was already getting much smaller when we left the city. I heard that some areas will even stop or have stopped producing them. Our daily is not delivered, it comes in the mail, on the same day it comes out, now that’s good service from the post office!

  10. NoPotCooking says:

    I don’t use the phone book, but I do get our town and city newspapers and read them. I just prefer to hold a paper in my hand and scan the pages.

    • Kerri says:

      I didn’t read the phone book in the city either. For some reason, maybe because it’s tiny and I don’t have to go digging in a big drawer for it, I do here.

  11. Alisia says:

    We receive a local weekly newspaper, but I have to say I now source my news from the internet or NPR. We try very hard to limit the amount of paper that comes in through the mailbox, with so much available online.

    However, I still prefer reading a book over an eReader. As much as I try to live a paper-free life, that’s my major weakness!

    btw, this is my first time visiting your blog!

    • kerri says:

      Welcome to Living Large, Alisia, I hope you come back and participate often! I finally went to the e-reader, I love my Kindle. But I haven’t yet broken myself of the printed news. 😉

  12. V Schoenwald says:

    I agree with Olivia’s comment: I really don’t care anymore what happens around the world. There isn’t much I can do about it, where I am located. I concentrate my efforts in my community on things that I can do or help with or make changes to.

    • kerri says:

      I personally like to be well informed on world matters as well. However, I know other people who feel the same as you. I have a friend, though, that keeps up on world news and ignores the local news (then complains when they approved a turkey farm permit on the next mountain).

  13. V Schoenwald says:

    We still have several local radio stations in several counties, with the general lost dog/ school closings/ and farm equipment accidents/railroad accidents, etc. We have our local newspaper which has been around since 1860’s but has had numerous publisher/owners.
    I do have high speed internet from cable, but this has been only available for about a year and a half now. We have come into the 21st century. I call our part of the world, “Hillbilly Hell”, and for good reason, even though this community I live in tries to be an up and coming larger city, that has numerous drawbacks and its urban problems right along the large cities like Omaha and Lincoln, and ranks right up there with them.
    I do enjoy looking and reading the online papers like NYT and Washington Post, and others, but for our local area, I still get a hard copy paper. And then I recycle the paper in the bin at at local church when I am done.

    • kerri says:

      Yay for recycling! Our local paper is online, I could read it at the computer, but like I wrote to Mat, that early morning paper ritual is my “me” time I’ve enjoyed for so many years.

  14. Olivia says:

    Our radio station runs those “lost dog” or “cows on road”, “(School) bus #-so and-so running half an hour late” etc. notices as well. We have ONE daily newspaper for our entire province, plus a small localized weekly and I write a column for a small local monthly which, as you said, is just local gossip from each rural community. Even our evening news is very localized – a new roundabout, a barn fire, a fundraiser for a sick person, weather, etc. It is billed as “All the news you need to know” – we really don’t need to know anything else! Who cares what is going on in the rest of the world:)

    We, too, are isolated and insulated from much of the “modern world” and we like it that way.

    • kerri says:

      I always think our communities sound so similar in so many ways, Olivia! Our “local” news comes from Springfield, Mo., two hours away. They do some Arkansas coverage, because, well, we aren’t big enough to have our own stations! It is still so different from the larger city news, though. They run the same stories sometimes at 5, 6 & 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next morning! They had a drive by once and we heard about it for a week! 😉

  15. susan says:

    I haven’t used a print phone book in ages but we still get our newspaper delivered every day. I hate reading the “paper” online; it’s just too distracting.

  16. mat says:

    My grandmother, who is quickly approaching 95 years old, still reads the NY Times cover-to-cover every day. My mother still gets a Sunday local paper. I get my news from NPR and the internet.
    My wife’s family comes from a series of small towns (I call them “shotgun towns, a la “shotgun shack”) where they’ve printed a local paper for the last…oh, 150 years or so. They reprint an article from 150, 100, and 50 years ago in each issue. Their paper is probably not that dissimilar from yours, with lots of coverage given to church sales, drunk tanks, and gossip. But I don’t think I’ve read that paper for 5 years….

    The environmental impact of print media is still pretty nasty and within the next 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see local papers go completely online as part of a “Web 3.0” or something.

    • kerri says:

      I get all of my national and international news from the Internet and television. But, I like having my local news come in the form of a printed page each day. It’s my quiet time in the morning, just me, my dogs snuggled up near me and my coffee. I know the environmental impact of printed papers is bad, but I try to make myself feel better because we recycle. 🙂