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Editorial: From humble beginnings to an award-winning paper
About politics and other thingsMarch 26, 2014 | 2,114 views | Post a comment
There is a secret to maintaining a successful newspaper business -- and, yes, a newspaper is, first and foremost, a business or it ceases to exist.
Over the years, I’ve often been asked how I got started in the newspaper business. I always said that it was because I like to write. Upon careful consideration, however, I realize that the answer is more involved than that. I have a natural curiosity about people, places, and things -- and I like getting answers. Putting on my “newspaper hat” to help Pete Russo with his little “shopper” gave me legitimacy and the courage to go out and find answers to those questions. I met interesting people whom I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet, and I shared their stories in the little paper.
After Mr. Russo died, the newspaper became a family affair and I quickly discovered that I had ink in my blood; this business was addicting. That, in a nutshell, is how I got started in the newspaper business.
I wrote stories about ordinary people, telling the “who, what, when, where, and why” about people in neighborhoods. The stories were simple tales about folks in the community. Obviously, people were as interested as I was. The paper took on a life of its own.
Old-timers will remember this little paper’s humble beginning. After a few years, it evolved into a requestor publication. As a requestor publication, according to postal regulations, readers had to formally request it in order to get it in the mail. It was still free.
After a few years, we took steps to become a full-fledged paid-subscription newspaper. This was my acknowledgement that the Wilson County News had “arrived.”
With first one employee, and then another, we rented an office, and then a larger one. Finally, we found a permanent home in downtown Floresville. It was no longer just a family operation.
Over the years, it has become more news-centered than folksy, but I have never wanted to change it from being a “people” paper. That is what got us where we are.
As a newspaper over the last 30 years, we have provided readers what they wanted to read, rather than, as so many journalists are schooled to believe, what they need to read. Trying to maintain that balance is like walking a tightrope.
In addition to balancing news with entertainment and political opinion, the rapidly changing scope of the communication business has multiplied the challenge many times over. We meet those challenges every day in our business.
Just as the “little paper” took on a life of its own, now the business has taken on a new life with the Internet and now social media. It is a rapidly changing and challenging business.
As I began writing for the Wilson County News in about 1980, there was seldom time for my favorite subject, which was and is politics.
Over the years, however, as the reporting and writing were put in other, more capable, hands, I have found time for writing opinion columns. Like it or not, my favorite subject is still the current national political scene.
This causes an occasional bit of angst, as some disagree with my conservative viewpoint. Some confuse my political opinion with the reporting, but those are two different animals -- two distinctly separate areas. I give my opinion, but do not get involved with the reporting. Conversely, reporters do not give their opinions, but report facts.
As we continue to watch the business develop, we look toward a bright and exciting future. So far, every chapter has been better than the last; I trust that trend will continue.
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