Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So, why should one read a local newspaper?

  • Res audita perit, litera scripta manet: A thing heard perishes; the written letter remains.
by Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

The old Latin phrase pretty much sums it up: The written letter remains. Think about it how often you have seen one of your friends or relatives bring out a scrapbook with newspaper clippings from the past. There is the wedding announcement of uncle John and his bride Agatha in Barton, the high school reunion pictures or that winning touchdown when your father was 16 years old and they won the pennant. Or the touching obituary of some one's mother, lovingly written by an old friend and preserved forever in the browning pages of the Newport Daily Express or the Barton or St. Jonesbury paper. Those are priceless memories my friends and as the sages of old knew "A thing heard perishes..."
How many news stories that one sees on the TV become important memories? Not many. Which brings me to the above posted question:"Why should one read a local newspaper"?
The answer is manifold but simply put, a local paper, written by local residents and supported by local advertisers is the only true window of today's happenings in that particular community and shall be a valuable tool for future historians, future town planners, able to see successes and failures in the infrastructure of a region as it has developed over time and it will be the timeless chronicle of an era in which we are the current residents, administrators, teachers or preachers, dreamers or criminals.
For the past two centuries the local papers have preserved what no electronic media of today can ever do - it allows us to glimpse into the past through the eyes of those reporters, editors and publishers who had put the paper together, often with thinly masked motifs, political bias or even structured to cater to a favored group of advertisers or religious elements. But even that is a valuable chronicle as we have the benefit of hindsight and can now easily see through those machinations in view of the recorded history of the period. We would not know of the minutiae of life in America through the years of the Civil War, nor understand the vagaries of the local economies which have structured our history and developed our communities to where they are today.
Right here in Newport we have a rich and diversified history and, just for an example, in today's paper (Tuesday, October 22) there is a story about the lumber mills which stood on the site of the Eastside restaurant. The story fascinated me as I am familiar with the place and today I walked the grounds, trying to feel the smell of the steam machinery, see the log rafts or the barges from Prouty Bay to the area behind Waterfront Plaza, envision the rail yard with hundreds of cars laden with lumber. Just this small story demonstrates how valuable our local paper(s) are. For 50 Cents I got an inexpensive history lesson which gave me great pleasure.
But it does not end there. Let us look at the paper as a whole for a moment:
First, it is not a Pulitzer prize winning issue, there are no world class editorials, none of the stories will ever show up in syndication and after this day, few will remember it; Yet the members of the North Country boys cross country team  featured in a photo by Christina Cotnoir on page One will probably keep a copy of the page to show their grand children some day and I assume that the Student Athlete of the week, Ryan Paul, will not discard his picture of page six. The families and friends of Red Lontine Sr., Alfred A. Durocher or Mark Noel Perry will hang on to the obituaries written about their loved ones. Nobody will keep the Vista ad with today's specials but as a lover of a good beef stew, I for one will avail myself of the bottom round stew beef for $ 3.49 per pound while my wife Nancy has cut out the great pork recipes featured on page nine. Of course I already did the crossword puzzle after breakfast and looked at the classified advertisements which still did not have a needed $ 500.- inspected pickup truck but had a job offer for a marina yard laborer. I love boats and even know how to drive any size travel lift to haul them out, but at 65 years of age I doubt they would hire me. And there is always the advertisement "Not Bob's" for the removal of junk cars. I always wonder who "Bob" is or was and what he did to deserve the "Not Bob" moniker. Historians looking at this paper 100 years from now will possibly ponder the same question. Maybe dissertations will be written about it.
Well, I think you got my drift. Just by reading the local paper you become a member of the community as it enriches your experience as a resident, brings you closer to the daily life of the city and the surrounding country and even tells you what is going on, where the good church suppers are and where to get that old car repaired. It explains local doings and planned developments, introduces you to people who do things well and sadly also chronicles the darker side of the community through police and court reports. While many think that it is unnecessary to report those things, it is a proven fact that the threat of being exposed publicly has been a significant deterrent in the case of repeat offenders.
So, remember that you and your community will live on forever in the pages of even this humble paper which  makes it a valuable local resource and future treasure trove!

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