The Ottumwa Courier


May 29, 2013

A gift to us all

It’s amazing what we can learn over the course of a career. So many people have taught me so much. And then there are the many things I’ve learned by observing newspaper people at work.

In more than 45 years in newspapering, here is one of the most important things I’ve learned: Small newspapers are a gift. But the real gift is the people who work at those newspapers.

Here’s why:

The folks who work at small newspapers live in the town. Many of them grew up there. They go to church there. They shop there. Their kids go to school there. They know who’s who and who would-like-to-be-but-isn’t.

You’ll not find harder workers than those who work at small newspapers. They put in long hours and rarely (if ever) complain, they’ll visit an advertiser before sunrise and they’ll report on those high school football games that run into double-overtime ... at an opponent’s stadium 28 miles away.

They try to improve with every issue. If they hear about a better way to do things, whether it’s new software, digital photography, the web or whatever, most are willing to give the new technology a shot. Granted, some are old dogs. But even they are willing to learn new tricks.

They have the best interests of the newspaper — and the town — at heart. They want to see both succeed and flourish, and they are willing to go the extra mile to make that happen.

They are boosters. They will offer a balanced report on how things are going in town. They’ll tell the bad along with the good, but they look for the good and they focus on that because they firmly believe the town itself is a good place to live and work.

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