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Celebrate National Newspaper Week

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By Jesse Osbourne

 

If you told me six years ago that I would be living in my hometown and working for a weekly newspaper, I probably would have gotten mad at you.


Six years ago I graduated from college. Like many journalism students, I thought I was destined for the biggest newspapers and magazines.
I had my sights set on Florida, a state with numerous reputable newspapers.
I was going to be a photojournalist - a newspaper photographer. There would be no time for writing stories. My main focus would be taking pictures.
That’s what I was going to do. That’s what I was trained to do.
Well, I did get to Florida. And I was a full-time photojournalist for a daily newspaper.
The plan was in motion. Now I just needed to work hard and work my way up to larger newspapers.
It was pretty sweet, but it wasn’t.
I left behind the person who would become my wife.
For that reason, and some others, Florida didn’t last.
I came back to Kentucky to work. I found another photojournalist position - with a caveat. I had to pick up a beat. I had to write stories.
So, I did.
I cut my teeth on local government in Boyle County.
I started to learn more about the importance of local government - and covering it accurately - and why people should care.
I learned that you can’t trust some people and that others say things just to get quoted in the newspaper.
Later on, when I started covering sports in Lebanon, I learned just how important Little League sports are to a community.
I learned the importance of getting to know the people I talked to on a weekly basis. In fact, I believe I wouldn’t have written some of the stories I wrote without developing a level of comfort with those people.
It’s no different here, or anywhere.
If you told me six years ago that I would understand the value of Little League sports, or the school page, or any other page that wasn’t “news,” I wouldn’t have believed you.
Six years ago, I was more worried about what the big newspapers were doing. Who works there? What style of pictures do they run? How can I get my foot in the door?
Judy Muller, author of “Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns,” recently said in an interview that “as long as there are refrigerator magnets there will be weekly newspapers.”
I think she’s right.
And I think working at a weekly newspaper provides that opportunity more so than any other size newspaper.
More than likely, you’re not going to pin on international politics story from The New York Times to your fridge.  
But here, in Washington County, there’s a decent chance you’ll clip something out of one of our pages and put it up on the fridge or mail it to someone or tuck it away in a scrap book.
Isn’t that cool?
While it is warm and fuzzy to think about, there are things that we have to cover that aren’t always so cuddly.
Crime. Corruption. Tragedies. All of that stuff comes with it.
Serving as a public watchdog is part of the deal, too.
We strive to be fair in that endeavor. We strive to be accurate.
This newpaper, according to one of Mr. Moran’s past columns, was founded in 1904. That’s 108 years of serving Washington County.
Cheers to you for supporting us during that time. I run into subscribers who often say they’ve read the paper for over 50 years.
50 years!
The longer I stay here, the more I hope I hear that someone has been reading for that long.
Here’s to 50, or 108, or however many more years.
Here’s to newspapers across the nation, large and small.