Finding a reason to have a newspaper

As luck would have it, I ran into a couple of women Monday who are my peers (read: sort of older women sort of like me) and they commented on the fact that I often make reference to the men in a group of coffee drinkers at a local restaurant, calling them the “Advisory Board” of that establishment. They are correct; I do that.

The women thought that if I wanted the scoop about real community issues, crises, and news, I could find out more by attending THEIR morning meetings where, apparently there is either a sign on the table or they all are wearing T-shirts that proclaim them the “Number One Chief Executive Advisory Board.”

Swell, we have dueling bands of experts in charge of local, state, and national rumors and innuendoes. I can’t wait to see how this pans out.

Their comments, of course, were in jest and I always enjoy the readers who “get it.” Several of you called or stopped me to say you thought my assessment of the “test” in the past week’s opinion column was funny, but entirely possible. I agree with you on that one. We know our community!

Recently I also joked about the fact that for 12 years Janet Post and I have been doing this job that we thought was only a going to be a six-month assignment. Could we quit anytime? Sure we could. Would we be replaced? Would there still be a Peabody Gazette-Bulletin? I don’t know. That would not be our call, but it would be nice to think we would still have one.

Often Janet uses a press pass to get into ball games in other small towns. When she presents it, she says people at the gates in those communities comment on Peabody-Burns kids get coverage in a local paper. “Wow,” they tell her, “How great for your students that a local paper covers them instead of a larger area paper that may or may not even print the scores, never mind information on the plays, action, or stats.”

I enjoy letting the community know what the issues are for this week or this month; she enjoys getting our students in articles and pictures about athletics and other activities as often as possible. We always are aware of the historical impact that stories, reports, births, deaths, and even opinion columns have on the community’s chronological tale. So we hang on and hope we give you more than coffee shop scuttlebutt.

The main reason it is so hard to quit is that when we look at other communities in our area that no longer have a newspaper, we see communities that operate on rumor and gossip. Building consensus in Peabody for anything pertaining to the city government, school district, community services, businesses, churches, or organizations is tough as it is. Getting information to residents about those entities and services without a newspaper would turn communication over to the “advisory boards.”

Coffee shop chatter makes good humorous copy for opinion columns and I appreciate having it as an editorial tool. However, it is tough to make a legitimate case for it where real news is concerned.

Renew your subscription to the paper annually, shop with the merchants who advertise with us (especially those who support pages for your kids), encourage your children to read the local paper and buy them a subscription when they leave home. Oh yes, and let us hear from you if you like what we have done or if you don’t.

It all counts and we don’t know if you don’t tell us!

— SUSAN MARSHALL

 

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