Last week was Newspapers in Schools Week. The Missouri Press Service forwarded to members some essays composed by University of Missouri students to share with our readers. One was from Ethan Colbert, a junior print-reporting journalism major at the University of Missouri. He is from the small town of Frankford, and aspires to work as an editor for a community newspaper and then to buy the newspaper. He also dreams of owning the now-defunct Frankford Chronicle. His essay was entitled “Hometown Connections.”
As a college student, anything that connects me back home is worth its weight in gold.
While at college, I am living over 150 miles away from my hometown in rural northeast Missouri. There are days in which I wish I could just pack-up and hit the road back home, leaving this big city life behind me.
And just when I am about ready to flip the lock on my apartment, I will spy The Bowling Green Times sitting on the coffee table. I typically sigh, drop my bags in the doorway and curl up on the couch and go through the newspaper.
You see the Bowling Green Times isn’t just any newspaper for me. The Times is my hometown newspaper, my hometown connection. By page two or three, I am back in those rolling hills of the Mississippi River valley. I am taken back to all those times I sat on the front porch of my family’s home, rocking on the porch swing, reading the different sections of the paper with my family.
The memories of sitting on the porch or around the dining room table reading the paper left a profound impact on me as a child and as a teenager. So much of an impact that in fact when I graduated from Bowling Green High School, I went and became a paid subscriber to the Times.
For $29 a year, I am connected back to my hometown and the nearly 4,000 residents who make this Mayberry-like city a reality. Still to this day, my hometown paper connects me back, it informs me, educates me, and reminds me of everything going on in my hometown.
Each time I open up the Times, I am reminded that knowledge and learning are not contained to just within the classrooms of schools across this state but can arrive in the form of your daily or weekly newspaper.
For today’s collegiate youth, a newspaper subscription should be seen as much of a necessity as their textbooks or school supplies.
There is an incredible need for newspaper readership in today’s world. Everyone, especially college students, needs to have that connection to their hometown and to the world around them whether it is the world that is right down the street or across the state.
So to all those moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles who are wondering what to get their college-bound grandchildren for a high school graduation gift, let me offer you this advice.
Give them a gift worth its weight in gold. Give them a connection to their hometown. Give them a subscription to their local hometown newspaper. They will thank you later.
For an old dinosaur who still has black ink running in his vein, this young man realizes the important role local community newspapers can have in the life of small-town America.
By Bob Simmons