By Carol Stiffler
With the issue of the Newberry News that you are reading right now, we have turned 137 years old. We are officially the second-oldest continually running business in Newberry—behind Foster’s hardware store.
Since my husband and I took ownership of the business, I have learned many lessons about community and journalism and what matters here. Our newspaper is not much like the massive dailies in Detroit, Chicago, or New York. We’re small, and though our hearts are big, our journalistic attention is intentionally near-sighted.
It took some time to adjust to a news mentality of “it’s just us” in our Newberry newsroom, but I have learned that what matters to our area is what needs to show up on our pages. We can bypass water crises, celebrity news, food trends and whatnot in exchange for coverage on wolf counts, new principals, church updates, and our very own students. Our focus is on who we are, what we have, and what we need.
A good newspaper should be a mirror to its community. If you don’t have a mirror in your home, you won’t know what you look like before heading out the door. If a community doesn’t have a newspaper, it can’t know what it looks like as a whole. Residents will only know the parts of their town that touch their lives – work, the grocery store, the gas station, maybe church. An active, attentive newspaper will broaden the scope of a community. This is us, it says. This is what we do. This is who we are. This is what’s wrong. This is what’s right. I see the newspaper as a border, or a comfortable basket, around us. Our readers belong here in these pages, and they’re represented here.
Being a mirror in a small community is a delicate thing. A newspaper shouldn’t necessarily provoke or lead a charge for change, and should be mindful that its content can leave a major wake in its trail. Sometimes, though, when a newspaper shines a light on a bleak situation, a reader will step into that light and spark change. It’s the people who make the difference.
My favorite thing is when the Newberry News is full of bylines from local writers representing all sectors – schools, clubs, churches, retirees, businesses, health, sports. I love it when the newspaper is full of us, from the front page to back. Sometimes I’ve counted as many as 17 contributing writers in a single issue, and have been thrilled.
For that reason, I cannot fathom why some people declare they “never read the newspaper”. This newspaper is me and you; it’s all about us. To not read your local newspaper is to exclude yourself from the greater community you live in.
We spend enough time in our own silos. When we see our local names and faces in print, we notice each other and emerge together, more bonded. This is good. It’s difficult to live our isolated, rural area. We need to lean on each other, so we need to know each other. We succeed because we do so together.
The Newberry News is on your side—your side is our side. We are in this together.
To the extent that anyone seeks the greater good and serves here in some capacity, the Newberry News is with you and for you. We are very sincere about that.
Our newspaper has made mistakes — typos and worse — but we correct them and carry on because we’re all still here. All of us will find our way through this life, and hopefully, after we are gone, the Newberry News will still be serving the next generation of hardy souls who dare to persist here.
For those that are, and those to come, we are privileged to carry on this work.
Thank you for being part of this community, and for reading the Newberry News.