What is it worth?

Posted on January 10, 2012

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I work for The Marion Star, the daily newspaper of record for Marion County, Ohio. I read The Marion Star every day. I used to deliver The Marion Star when I was 12 years old. Growing up in Marion, I saw it delivered to my house every day as a child, and I used to try to “report” the news around my neighborhood. I love the smell of newsprint, and a friend swears I bleed printer’s ink.

So, while there is an obvious bias because it is my place of employment, the following rant has more to do with an institution and a community than it does my paycheck, I assure you.

Someone told me today that I work for a “rag”. The typical definition of “rag” is “a piece of old cloth, usually torn and used for cleaning things”, according to sites like dictionary.com. Another person told me that the paper was only good for lining a dog’s cage or wrapping up breakables for moving.

Sentiments of this nature anger me. Not because they are talking about my writing as well as the writing of my colleagues, or even because they are making notions about the content of the newspaper. It angers me because this is the only newspaper in this community. Columbus only reports on Marion when something goes horribly wrong.

Now, you may say…”That sounds a little intense. It’s not like you write for The New York Times.” You would be right. I don’t write for The New York Times. And, I don’t live in New York City either. Sometimes I think that people dislike The Marion Star because it is a “small town newspaper” or a “community newspaper.” That’s what I love about it though. The headlines are there — all the muck and mire that can go on in a small town from time to time, but also what is going on in schools, city and county politics, etc.

I don’t think The Marion Star is a rag. The newspaper is over 130 years old. It started out as The Daily Pebble. It then became The Marion Daily Star, and then was bought and revitalized by Warren Harding in the 1880s. Of course, Harding would go on to be President…but I still think his greatest contribution to this community was the establishment of a newspaper that has lasted over a century. I’m glad it has remained a daily paper, despite the struggles in the newspaper industry of the last few years. I’m glad that it has found its way onto the internet and has changed as media changes (adding a mobile site, reporters tweeting headlines, etc.).

Even though it changes, I think at the heart, it remains the same. The paper wants to give Marionites all the news that is fit to print in Marion County.

So, here is my question to readers: Do you read a daily newspaper (either online or print version)? What articles do you like to read? What do you think your community would be like without it? How would you like to see it change?

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