I don’t like math. But I started thinking Saturday morning about multiplication.
I was wondering just how many millions of column inches of stories have been generated about local people, local events, local government action’s impact on our communities, within the pages of The Princeton Daily Clarion.
The first edition of this newspaper was generated on the north side of the square in Princeton on Aug. 13, 1846.
I say it every year just to make sure it sinks in with readers: No private business in Gibson County has been doing its work continuously as long as this newspaper.
I make the caveat “private business” because institutions like city and county government and some local churches have been functioning a few decades longer than this newspaper.
When you think of how many businesses start and stop, that’s some kind of miracle.
We are a private business, but we’re also an institution. We’re the first draft of history. Our archives document the community like no other entity. Faces and places and quotations, events good and bad, important stories and slice of life pieces in our newspaper create an un-matched word picture of our county.
I did some round figuring, and frightened myself.
As just one journalist in Princeton, I estimate that I’ve written about 600,000 inches of local stories. If you count the 4-H results and honor rolls and court news and other news items that I didn’t personally develop but merely typed to make sure readers knew about them over the years, the inch count climbs to about 2 million.
So if one person is responsible for generating, conservatively, about 2 million column inches of local news in 23 years, just imagine how many more tens of millions of inches of stories, and how many hundreds of thousands of local photographs that document our daily lives in Gibson County, have come from the other journalists who helped produce the pages of this newspaper since 1846!
We don’t keep a running record of things like this, because we’re always looking to what we’re going to be writing the next day. In fact, I have a hard time keeping track of what day it actually is, since I’m always writing for the next morning’s reader.
I came here just a few years before the newspaper celebrated her 150th anniversary. We had a blast marking the anniversary milestone by dressing up like old-time newsboys and hawking papers for 3 cents a copy on the square. Actually, we didn’t make people pay 3 pennies, we gave away a lot of anniversary editions to make sure everybody knew how much we enjoy doing what we do.
Four years away from our 175th anniversary, I wake up every morning — weekend or weekday — thinking about how we can best share the daily news of Gibson County. It’s not just a job. It’s a life calling. It borders on obsession for me, truthfully!
I need to remind you that no one cares more about bringing the news of Gibson County to you than we do. In this age of instant this and that, it’s still the community journalists who take the time to seek out the interviews, the public records, the local milestone events.
I joke around now and then that I love journalism so much, I’ll be doing this when I’m 96. God willing, if I live to be 96 and I’m mobile, I’ll stand on the square and tell everyone about our 201st anniversary!
Somebody better capture that moment ...