116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
My need for a daily newspaper must be genetic. Both sets of grandparents always had current newspapers in their home, back pocket or lunch bucket as they struggled during the Depression era to raise families, crops and livestock. That tradition continued in my childhood home. Our mother said that early mornings with her coffee and daily newspaper were a “holy hour.”
When my maternal grandmother began to lose her vision, myself or a sibling made the six-block walk every Thursday afternoon to read aloud her “letter from home” also known as the Beresford Republic (a South Dakota newspaper). Reading duties were rewarded with Lorna Doone cookies and milk. Unfortunately, daily broadcasts of local newspapers as provided by IRIS (Iowa Reading Radio Information Service) were not available during my grandmother’s twenty years of failing vision.
Newspapers have continued to be a companion. During the COVID cave time, my daily Gazette was not a luxury but a necessity. My carrier is faithful. When there is a delivery delay, I find myself wondering if her van had mechanical troubles or if she fell on an icy step. Fussing over the newspaper delivery time was long ago reframed as my brother and I shared a paper route. Once we arrived at our newspaper drop site and discovered that someone had set the piles of newspapers on fire. Our wagon broke under the weight of a Sunday edition. Things happen to prevent timely newspaper delivery. The September remembrances of carrier Johnny Gosch’s disappearance certainly highlight the perils of newspaper delivery.
I still depend on a daily print newspaper as one of my information sources. Screen time is not ideal for a tactile learner. Critiquing purpose, grammar, and style are part of my reading time. Years ago, Lyle Muller, former Gazette editor, told me that when journalists get feedback on an article, they know someone read their work.
Within the past few weeks, I have heard national and local journalists talk about their craft. Several noted the increase of scary threats against them as well as threats to discontinue reading their respective newspaper. I always chuckle at writers who send letters to this newspaper saying they have had it with the editorials or commentary and they are discontinuing their readership. Typically, within a month or so there is another letter to the editor from the person who swore to quit.
Do I always agree with what I read on the editorial page? No. Can I handle reading diverse thoughts and opinions? Yes. Do I try to learn from other’s commentary? Yes. Do I look for facts? Yes. Is my money well spent on a newspaper? Yes. Do I have time to read the newspaper? Not always, but I try to peruse and I cut out columns to read when time permits.
Like the merchandise at Raygun stores says, “America Needs Journalists.” However, I amend that slogan to “America Needs Good Journalists.” From attending two Okoboji Writers’ Retreats, I have learned there are many decent, dedicated, and thoughtful journalists in Iowa. Yes, some of the best have written or edited the content of the newspaper you are reading.
Oct. 2 to 8 is National Newspaper Week. Think about your news sources. If a local newspaper is not one of your sources, you are missing much.
Mary C. McCarthy lives in Coralville.