As I sit down at my desk in my office, hours before the sun rises, ready to begin my work day, I feel a sense of comfort created by the stack of local newspapers on the left from my typewriter.
There’s a nostalgia to opening my front door each morning to snatch the local newspaper from the entryway. I often fantasize about the original owners of my 1920’s house doing the same. I envision the town paperboy delivering on horseback in 1889 when the Pioneer Journal was first established. I’m a bit envious given I live in a time when my newspaper is tossed from the driver’s window of his 4X4 jeep.
We also subscribe to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. It’s the know all of the west side of Eastern Iowa stretching from the small town farming communities in the middle of nowhere to the populated cities.
I walk out to the sun room, newspaper in one hand, cup of coffee in the other. My husband is there and ready for us to read together. He goes straight for the Sports section. I go directly to Insights and Books.
We’ll know we’re finished when our fingertips wear the tinge of black print and the echo of shuffling pages fades. We then engage in dialog what we learned.
We both skip right past the first section, the “news” section unless there has been a recent news story that has captured the attention of the entire community, such as Mollie Tibbetts.
Mollie Tibbetts is an unfortunate example of why local print newspapers still have a valuable place in communities. While major online media outlets such as Fox News, CNN, USA Today, Yahoo, MSN, even Wikipedia has transformed the loss of her life into an immigration scandal — the local newspaper has reported the integral facts.
No one disappears from the small farming communities here in Iowa and this is what made Tibbett’s disappearance national news from day one.
But what the national online media failed to mention is the community coming together and collectively donating funds totaling over $400,000, an unfathomable amount of money for Rural Americans, rotations of over 200 volunteers searching endless stretches of farmland on foot for weeks in hopes of finding any clue leading authorities to her whereabouts.
Now, a week after her body was found her picture still hangs in the window of every door in the town square as our community mourns for her along with all the surrounding small towns.
I believe reading the newspaper has become a lost art.
As a society we tend to focus on the negative side of the news such as what’s presented to us through algorithms and online media outlets in the digital age.
The newpaper however, is entirely different. It’s true journalism providing us with the most valuable information from our local communities with a variety of sections. It’s our connection to the immediate world around us and not only does the newspaper inform but it educates.
In today’s newspaper I read the schedule of best selling authors who will be doing readings at the local independent bookstore in the Books and Insights section, how to DIY lavender flowers into oil in the gardening section, Greek recipes for the harvest from your garden in the cooking section, the history of Fort Atkins in the Time Machine Section and the performing arts and festival venues in the Things to do This week section.
And while the online media continues to turn the life of an Iowan girl into a heated immigration debate, by reading the newspaper I learned her family’s requests from the community in her honor and when prayer is scheduled in hopes our community can put the national news media behind us and begin to heal from this great tragedy and loss.