School newspapers: A project worth saving

By Charles Myrick, General Manager/Editor, Mountain Advocate Barbourville

Charles Myrick

With the new school year starting for both Barbourville Independent and Knox County Public Schools, a couple of familiar items have made their way back into the fold, pun intended, of The Mountain Advocate.

A few years ago, we decided that we would pave the way to offer both school systems a viable means to have a real school newspaper, tucked away each month inside our own newspaper.

Each month, Knox County Public Schools’ Frank Shelton prepares and sends a wide-ranging publication to me for printing and inserting into the newspaper. About the same time of the month, the wonderful staff at Barbourville Independent School gathers news items from teachers and staff throughout their school to send to me. I take their submissions and turn it into what you will recognize as “Tigers’ Roar.”

When we started the newsletters, we made it so that there would be mostly no cost involved with the school systems as long as it stayed within set parameters as far as numbers of pages, extra copies, etc. go. In order to do this, we asked the community to step up and help absorb this cost via sponsorships. In the past we’ve attempted to keep the number of sponsors low, as we didn’t want the newsletters riddled with small advertising. Traditionally, we’ve had three advertisers step up and cover the bulk of the costs of these newsletters each year. Except for 2020 — this year has been hard on many, including agencies that once were able to help fund this project.

While we are most of the way there, we are still looking for sponsors to help absorb the costs of Knox County’s newsletters. While we are publishing the first issue this week, and the first issue of Tigers’ Roar published last week, there’s still time to get involved.

The costs of printing a newspaper go up each year, as do salaries, equipment, and other general expenses. That’s right — newspapers are businesses just like most others. We scrape by on meager means to provide a public service to you, the people.

The reality of rising costs is that we can’t always fit every news item inside the printed newspaper. The website does help us augment our services with unlimited space, but there’s just something special about print. One day when servers are gone or social media fads fade away, somewhere you will continue to find printed newspapers. You’ll find volumes of old issues of The Mountain Advocate for hundreds of years to come.

It’s very special to us to be able to help our schools keep a printed newspaper. We are asking our community to help us help our schools. If you’re interested, please reach out to me at 606-546-9225, ext. 103, or by e-mail at I’ll give you the details involved.

In coming weeks, we will also be bringing back Newspapers in Education, where we provide school news and activities in our printed newspaper itself and provide extra copies of the newspaper at no cost to our school systems to distribute to teachers as they see fit. There are opportunities to sponsor NIE as well.

As our students start virtual learning this week and head back to class in person in coming weeks, let’s keep them, their parents and our educators in our thoughts and prayers as everyone continues to adjust to an ever-changing year of uncertainty.

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