By Lynette Sowell
My front porch
A big birthday is coming up on Friday, when the Copperas Cove Leader-Press marks Vol. 124, No. 1 as it turns 124 years old.
Whenever a community newspaper turns another year older, it should be a cause for celebration.
It is no secret that most of us don’t get our first news from traditional sources, which can be a good and a bad thing. A good thing, for convenience and up-to-the minute information. However, it can be a bad thing when people rely on a news feed from a private company that runs Facebook, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a trending news post. I won’t touch on the danger of stumbling upon “fake news” stories on social media or the internet at large.
But relying on a social media site where stories pop up and then get buried among posts of your cousin’s kitten pictures and photos of someone’s steak dinner, it doesn’t always mean you’ll be getting the information you’re really looking for. You could miss it.
The thing is, community newspapers stay on the front of what’s going on in communities. It’s not a community newspaper’s job to tell you how to feel about an issue, but it is a community newspaper’s job to funnel information your way and then let you decide how to feel about it.
Taxes going up? What’s going in at the old H-E-B building? What’s happening in the schools? City council? What’s happening next for families to do, see, and participate in within our community? Most of those things are – and should be – in a community newspaper, and are among the pages of our publication.
On the rare occasions when I find myself having a few moments of down time in the office, I pull out a printed volume from our archives and see where we’ve been. Because the Copperas Cove Leader-Press has been there, whether by a different name, since 1894. How I wish we had archives earlier than 1960!
But in our archives, you will find gems like a picture of the late Gen. Shoemaker playing fiddle at a military affairs barbecue in Ed Rhode’s backyard. You will see pictures and read stories of Copperas Cove students who have gone on to do many great things. You will see our community growing with each school built, every church constructed and expanded, the “new” library that is now 20 years old, fire and police stations built, and many businesses which have opened and grown, with some of them flourishing to this day.
I love to tell the stories of new businesses, with owners who take a leap of faith as entrepreneurs. There are so many, I can’t get to them as quickly as I’d like. Community newspapers are champions of small businesses and we like nothing more than to come alongside of business owners and help market them to their customers.
Newspapers don’t always mean “good” news or warm fuzzies, however. You will find controversial topics such as the history of the 190 bypass and meetings held years ago protesting the very idea, as well as the infamous “No Touch” fiasco of the early 1990s, or an almost equally infamous city council recall of 2008, when the city had no seated government until a special election could be called. You see community leaders rise and fall, and see the how the decisions they made and make continue to affect us now. It is the community newspaper which makes sure that when a nonprofit is doing good things in the community, that news is shared.
You won’t find those stories in your Facebook news feed in one accessible place, nor will you find these stories among the pages of larger newspapers for whom Copperas Cove may be an afterthought.
So what will the next years bring? As managing editor, I have ideas for the Leader-Press to keep growing as it highlights what’s going on in the community and as it provides information for readers. We don’t fight the digital world, but rather we embrace it and leverage it for our benefit and for our readers.
People say newspapers are dying, but I tend to disagree with that. As long as community newspapers evolve with the times and use the tools available to them to get information to readers, they can flourish.
Happy birthday to the Copperas Cove Leader-Press, and many more.