By Peter Wagner, N’West Iowa Review
My family’s publishing company, Iowa Information, purchased the Hawarden Independent/Ireton Examiner and the Area Wide Ad-Vertiser the first of this month.
That’s the fourth paid circulation newspaper and third free circulation Shopper we’ve either started or acquired.
My wife and I started our Golden Shopper right out of college in 1962. We had no print advertising or actual printing experience.
Next came The N’West Iowa REVIEW, a regional newspaper established in 1972. Except for what we had learned the 10 years publishing our Golden Shopper, neither of us had any experience in the newspaper business.
That might have been our greatest strength. We had no idea of what couldn’t be done or shouldn’t be done. We didn’t know, for example, that there was an unwritten agreement between community newspapers to stay out of each other’s towns. We managed to hang on by selling advertising all across the region.
There have been more than a few who’ve asked me why we continue to purchase and publish community newspapers. “Don’t you know the newspaper business is dying?” they say.
“Don’t you know the need for and importance of local hometown newspapers?” I respond.
Who else but the local newspaper reports all the scores from last weekend’s youth baseball tournament, keeps a tight watch on what is happening at city hall, writes a heart-warming story about a local lady celebrating her 103rd birthday or pens the much-needed editorial creating consensus for repaving main street? The nearby television station won’t. It covers too wide of an area with too little real broadcast time for such details. The local radio station can’t. It would be too big a job for their one- or two-person news department. Between our offices we have 12 people in our newsrooms.
True, the internet has brought many changes to the way people get the news today. It offers communication opportunities not before available in small town America. A person can go on the internet and find a good recipe, check the temperature almost anywhere, learn who invented the combustible engine and list the names of all 100 senators currently in office.
There is no other media that cares that much about the town or the people of the town as the newspaper. The hometown newspaper – paid or free circulation – is the community’s most credible news and information source. The local paper reports the news and delivers information about the best local deals as conveniently and completely as possible without comment.
There have been a few who have suggested we will eventually shut down the Independent/Examiner and force readers to subscribe instead to our regional N’West Iowa REVIEW.
That, of course, is ridiculous. There is a need for both a regional paper like the Saturday REVIEW and the community papers we publish during the middle of the week. The REVIEW addresses regional issues that affect or could affect all the communities in our corner of Iowa. Our local papers, as well as those published by others in the area, amplify the local connection to those regional reports while it shares additional information especially important to that community.
Local newspapers continue to be the first writers of local history. They continue to be the archives of people’s lives and organizational changes.
All of our family, and those who work with us Iowa Information, are thankful to be in a position to publish so many area newspaper, shopper, specialty publications and magazines in our part of Iowa. We plan to continue to publish news and advertising papers, for the good of the community, for many years to come.