My training in journalism school (1973-77) was old school. We had it drilled into us to report the news on the front page and save opinion for the opinion page. To be unbiased. To be sure of your facts before you published.
If you had something negative to write about somebody, you told them it was coming and asked for their comment on the matter.
You just don't see that in most national publications anymore. I have always considered broadcast news to be more entertainment than journalism, and really didn't expect much from them, but here lately even the newspapers have become all fluff and opinion.
That's really disappointing.
So when I moved to Dunlap in 2013 and realized the Dunlap Tribune was not doing a very good job of serving the people of Dunlap, I figured maybe I could help.
I was 58 years old at the time, but I had some good, solid experience in journalism – in newspaper, magazine, and TV reporting, writing news, features, and editorials, laying out the paper, writing headlines . . . even darkroom work, back when we handled real photos instead of digital images.
My most recent job had been as copy editor on a daily newspaper in Alabama. In the past, I won awards from the Georgia Press Association, the Georgia Bar Association, and the Georgia Health Care Association for writing and photography.
I figured I had something to offer.
But when I contacted the Dunlap Tribune about working for them as a reporter, they never got back to me. I even contacted them a second time about writing a column for their editorial page, but they did not want that, either. (I only realized later that they truly had no editorial page with columns, letters to the editor, etc.)
I assumed that they did not want to hire me in any capacity because they thought they would have to pay me more than their regular reporter, Nathan. I knew what newspapers paid, though. Believe me.
When I graduated from the University of Georgia and went to work at my first newspaper job, I brought home less than $100 each week. That was in 1977, but things haven't changed too much for reporters since then.
Reporters at my last job, on the daily in Alabama, were making $10 an hour, and they were required to produce two stories each day, usually with some photos included.
In 2010 – the year after I left – there were some major cutbacks, and all the reporters were asked to take a dollar an hour reduction in pay. Some of them went back to college to get an advanced degree. At least one went to work doing public relations for a big auto manufacturer.
For you see, the traditional print publications are under pressure from the Internet. Anybody with a phone these days can write their version of the “news.” Sooner or later, the newspapers that don't adapt to the new media will disappear.
When I started Dunlap News Jan. 1, 2016, I was catching the wave of the future – electronic media – but I was using the “old school” journalism I learned in college: Write the truth to the best of my ability, be honest, be diligent. Keep the news on the front page and opinions on the opinion page.
Dunlap News tried to fill the gaps the Dunlap Tribune was leaving, by reporting what was happening in the community, even if it cost us advertising (which it did). Because feedback was instantaneous, through the comment function on Facebook, I could tell what information my readership was really interested in.
I tried to cover everything in the community except sports and many of the school activities, simply because I couldn't do everything. Dunlap News was just me, after all.
And I gradually saw changes in the Dunlap Tribune, as they responded to the growing pressure of that weird hybrid that was the Dunlap News – written like a hometown weekly newspaper, but updated daily (sometimes minute-by-minute), and reaching out to every corner of the globe with news about our little town. They redesigned their format to look cleaner and more professional. They changed their website to make it more accessible.
So, while I regret that we have to stop publication at this time, due to my own health issues, I also realize that in the 3 ½ years Dunlap News has been in operation it has had a positive impact on the community, and that's good.
As of Aug. 31, this site will no longer be updated, and sometime on or right after that date, the site will disappear. If there are any stories or photos you want to save that have appeared on Dunlap News, you need to get them from the Archives now. The link to Archives is at the bottom of the page. Save what you want or print it out, but please give credit to Dunlap News somewhere on it.
Even though the saying is that nothing on the Internet ever goes away, those stories and photos may no longer be accessible after the website goes down.
~ Karen House