Each and every year, the staff at The Winona Times and The Conservative honor up-and-coming business leaders with our Top 20 under 40 awards. With some help from the community, we select our 20 young leaders and feature them and their accomplishments in our annual Profile edition set to published at the end of this month.
We also honor them at a reception, where we serve great food and present each honoree with a plaque designating them as a Top 20 under 40 honoree.
Giving our local citizens a pat on the back is probably my favorite part of my job as editor and publisher of the newspapers. Outside of trade organizations and internal recognition programs at various businesses and organizations, the newspaper is the lone source of community kudos. And you know what? We love being the community’s cheerleaders.
This week, the newspaper industry celebrates “Sunshine Week” where we shine a light on the importance of public information and what it means to our communities.
This got me thinking about all the things community newspapers bring to a community that so many people overlook.
Without your local newspaper, who would publish your child’s honor rolls or academic awards or photographs of that birthday party with the Cat in the Hat? Who would provide in-depth coverage of the rivalry game between Winona Christian School and Carroll Academy?
Who cares enough to print that your best friend is turning “Lordy, Lordy she is 40,” and who was crowned the Valentine Day’s king and queen at Vaiden Living Center? Who would photograph the Kilmichael Christmas parade or introduce the Winona High School homecoming court? How would you know who received the Cherokee Rose or Winona Garden Club’s yards of the month? Who would share the personal testimony of a renowned local pastor or advertise that upcoming revival service?
Your local newspaper is the printed history of your community. It is forever an archive of the life and times of your county and its people.
Right now, through our partner www.newspapers.com, you can search our hundreds of years of archives – a record of more than 138 years of news and records from Carroll and Montgomery counties.
The Associated Press reported this past weekend that more than 1,400 cities and towns across the United States have lost a newspaper in the past 15 years.
The reasons, well, they vary from place to place. Some corporately-owned newspapers were cut to the barebones to save money – laying off or forcing their veteran journalists into retirement. Some were them were victims of economic woes or population losses unique to a particular community. Most felt the decline in advertising revenues, as businesses tested the digital market and social media opportunities.
Most of these challenges were felt by larger metro daily newspapers, but some of us in the community newspaper market – the ones who report ONLY local news and sports -- have felt the same declines in advertising revenue and a decline in paid subscriptions. One of my mentors referred to it as “media confusion” with the dominating force of social media and smart phones. Business people want to get their messages to the consumer. With most of the population scrolling away on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram almost compulsively, one would think social media would be an ideal way to advertise. And it’s free – or it was free.
And of course, the old adage, “Of course it’s true. I read it on the internet.”
Because everyone is posting away on social media, the thrill is gone. You got a few likes and a “Congrats” on your post announcing your promotion or your daughter’s 4.0 during her first semester in college. But nothing is official until it’s printed in the newspaper.
You might post 20 photos of your child in his cap and gown, but when it prints in our annual graduation edition, that photograph is clipped and pressed into a scrapbook.
Your kid scored the winning touchdown in Friday’s football game? I bet you snapped a photo of the front of the sports page and posted it on your wall.
I always say that community newspapers print news you really care about – news that affects your day-to-day life. Water line repairs, paving projects, newly-opened businesses, school musical productions, new books available at the library, PTA meetings, gospel concerts, little league sign-ups, even your child’s letter to Santa – we have the scoop. Board of supervisors meetings, elections, criminal trials, natural disasters, and the possibility of a property tax increase – we report what is going on in YOUR community.
Every week, without fail, we will publish The Winona Times and The Conservative. Our small but dedicated staff is always working to improve on what we do with each weekly publication. In my tenure, we have added new news features like weekly recipes, kids’ activity pages, more in-depth feature stories, planned series of stories, and increased coverage of local schools and civic groups. We have also quadrupled our sports section, which has received rave reviews, as well as created the All-Crossroads teams for all major sports. That is just another way of celebrating the successes of our local people.
Throughout the year, we publish several special sections – football, basketball, and baseball/softball previews, graduation and kindergarten sections, the ever-popular Christmas Greetings, and our award-winning Profile edition. We also produce a local magazine, the Montgomery County Phone Book, the annual Carrollton Pilgrimage Guide, a Christmas Wish Book magazine, and new this year, our Wedding Central magazine.
Our staff works hard to give our loyal subscribers and weekly readers their money’s worth, and we are determined to continue and improve our products every year.
It only costs pennies a day to have your community newspaper delivered to your mailbox every week – a few cents to read all the news you really care about. And your support keeps us delivering, week after week after week.
I love that we are the community cheerleader. We have a lot to cheer for, and we hope to be cheering for another 130 years at least.