Tattling on Terrell

Posted on Monday 10 November 2008

I was forwarded a story this morning coming out of the Dallas/Fort Worth metro which I found kind of amusing. It showed the video of a story run on the telvision station WFAA during their local newscast. They reported that 25 people in the town of Terrell, located 25 miles east of Dallas, were protesting the Terrell Tribune’s coverage, or lack of coverage, about last week’s presidential election. A Terrell woman was miffed because she wanted the local newspaper to feature a banner headline about Obama’s win to keep in her scrapbook, and when the headline was about the outcome of a local commissioner’s election rather than Obama’s win she contacted WFAA News to tattle on the Terrell Tribune, and she gained 24 other Obama supporters to picket the newspaper office.

If folks are upset with The Texas Spur about our headline touting Stanaland’s win over Bohanon in a Kent County Commissioner’s race, the only local contested race, rather than Obama’s win in the presidential race, I haven’t heard about it. The Copperas Cove Leader-Press had one subscriber call to cancel her subscription for that newspaper’s lack in covering the outcome of the presidential election, but the publisher said her subscription had already run out one month prior to the election. Guess she showed them!

To make a long forum short, the consensus among us small-town publishers is that we are community newspapers and we cover our community’s news and events. For coverage of national events, we leave it to those larger, national newspapers. Most of the small town papers, like us, came out on Wednesday or Thursday, and, by that time, readers who didn’t know Obama won must have been in a coma, or living under a rock. And perhaps the commissioner’s race in Terrell was as big locally as the presidential race was nationally. Giving “Obama Wins” a big headline would have been like a banner headline saying “Today is Thursday”. I didn’t see anything like the Terrell Tribune’s headline “Johnson Defeats Schoen” in the Dallas Morning News or on WFAA’s newscast. Perhaps Johnson beating Schoen was as big a deal in Terrell as it was for Obama to win the U.S. presidency.

As for wanting the headline in the local newspaper to keep in a scrapbook? The publishers’ consensus was that a community newspaper’s job is to report local news, or, as the Terrell Tribune’s publisher put it, not to be a “memory book service”. I say if you want something to keep to throw in a box in your basement to commemorate the occasion, then buy the Dallas Morning News.

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