The Spooner Advocate has been serving Spooner and the surrounding area since 1901. A small-town newspaper is a running documentary of a community and a region, complete with the warts. The hometown paper also focuses on the triumphs of real people without the spin that dominates mainstream journalism today.
Within the pages of a small-town newspaper one can read about neighbors, city politics, parades, and school activities. And what a small-town newspaper really offers better than any other media are the stories of local characters. You will find coverage of local boys and girls going off to war, of the Lions Club activities. You can learn who visited who in the town news columns. You’ll read about the old coach retiring, and see the results of high school games.
Consider the coverage difference between hometown papers and the big boys something like the difference between a high-profile dinner and a community cook-out. Both taste great, but most of us probably much prefer the atmosphere in a place where burgers are cooked on the grill and corn comes fresh from the field of the farmer down the road.
A small-town newspaper chronicles the history of a community and the people who live there. The Spooner Advocate has been writing about the people who live here since the first settlers arrived in horse-drawn wagons. We have watched the town grow up and taken part in helping it grow. Search our pages through the years, or the pages of any small-town newspaper, and you can witness a little boy be born, get a ribbon for his 4-H project, graduate, get married, retire, and pass away. Entire lives pass before us in the newspaper pages.
We can follow the teacher honored for 35 years of helping children learn, watch as our neighbors celebrate 50 years of marriage, and witness a business come to town, find success, and eventually close over a period of years. We can read about the New Year's baby and celebrate a birthday with a pioneer woman turning 102 who still remembers the days gone by.
The hometown newspaper is like a glue that binds the community and lets the citizens know that they are important, at least here in our little corner of the world.
It is the billboard that advertises us to the world, the microphone that calls out about our successes, and the flashlight that exposes those among us who do wrong.
There have been days – many days since I began here – when I felt like walking away. Deadlines, pressure, nasty letters getting personal rather than sticking to the subject. It goes with the job. In my 45 years I’ve known many who burn out doing it.
But then I’ll take a photograph that turns out exceptionally nice or do a story that helps somebody, and suddenly it is fun to walk into the office again. Well, maybe not fun … but you feel excited about the job again. It is a feeling that small-town reporters have been feeling since ink first met paper, I guess. The newspaper is the caretaker of a small town’s history.
So here is to the hometown newspaper, in Spooner and in little towns all across America. Here is to the court reports, the county board minutes, the lists of county fair winners, and photos of firemen, police officers, nurses, and emergency workers on the front lines.
Here is to the ladies who dutifully report on their townships, the kid holding up a big bluegill he caught, and the local soldiers who never came home from war.
You’ll find them all and so much more in our pages. And, yes, we really do make fine fish wrappers and bird cage liners. Hometown newspapers are important in so many, many ways!