Yesterday I was privileged to visit what is a vanishing relic in America. In McCrory, Arkansas, a Delta town, I found a locally owned newspaper. Incidently, two of the nicest people you ever met run it.
Two sisters, Paula Barnett, Publisher/Manager, and Maryln Moody, Ad Manager, publish the “Woodruff County Monitor: Woodruff County’s Newspaper.” It is a publication with antecedents dating back to 1923. I went in for a moment, stayed 30 minutes, and could have lingered all day.
I’m not sure how many newspapers in the state are still locally owned. Friend Sonny Rhodes says “Not many,” Most have been purchased by, and are now controlled by, outside interests. So we seldom get such front page headlines as “Lawnmower located, arrest made,” or “Good Things Happening In McCrory.” (There are lots of them, but that’s for another day).
Newspapers owned by strangers no longer carry such gems as “Birthdays and Anniversaries,” much less the news from county churches. Nor would they print pieces containing the happenings in various communities written by local individuals and boasting such titles as “Pumkin Bend Postings,” “Augusta Activities, “Gregory Gleanings,” and "McCrory Messages,”
It is a tribute to the county that the “Monitor” still does.
The “Monitor’s” owners also support the county’s historical association, local writers, and towns. The current edition contains a moving editorial in support of McCrory’s new library, a marvelous operation rapidly becoming a focal point in the center of the city. Paula Burnett wrote: “… my first experience with a library was the Rolling Library that came around to our rural home in the summer. I was allowed to check out only two books, which seemed cruel to me. I read them over and over until the van came around the next week.”
The loss of locally owned newspapers, as well as the disappearance of downtown as the nerve center of a city is most eloquently described in John Grisham’s novel “The Last Juror.” It is worth the read if only to learn about the passing of these glorious aspects of Americana.
In the meantime, we can be thankful for “The Woodruff County Monitor.” Drop in and see these folks if you are in the area, and tell them I sent you.
“I read about eight newspapers in a day. When I'm in a town with only one newspaper, I read it eight times.” - Will Rogers