Small-Town Blues  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   December 1994

Small-Town Blues   

An E-mail message about “life on small-town papers” posted to an online journalism group by R.D. Hohenfeldt of Missouri’s Rolla Daily News:

By R.D. Hohenfeldt

I've been a reporter, photographer, editor, typesetter and paste-up boy at small-town weeklies and dailies for nearly 20 years. I like living and working in small towns, but there are some aspects of the trade that get my goat. Here's one that plays out at least once a month here in Rolla:

Lady calls up. Wants me to come and take a photo of her as she receives an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution (substitute the Jeffersonian Women's Democratic Club or Lioness Club or any organization of your choosing). It's at night (or on a Sunday afternoon) so I don't really want to take it. "Could you come by the newspaper office with your award the next day so we could get a picture?" I ask.

"Well, it's really important that we get the picture at the meeting. Our district president is coming down from Freeburg (or West Plains or some other small town) to make the presentation and we'd like to have her in the picture."

"All right," I say, "but I want to take the picture quick-ly. I don't want to wait around."

"Oh, that's no problem. It'll take five minutes."

She calls two or three more times during the week to confirm that I'll be there to take a photo I don't want to take but have to because, as the publisher says, "Local pictures are our bread and butter."

The day of the big presentation arrives. I arrive a couple minutes ahead of the appointed time. I wait and wait. After an hour or so, the group gathers for the presentation. And the lady who has been bugging me all week to come take the picture sighs and says, "Oh, the paper is here and they want a photo. I hate having my photo taken, but I guess we'll have to let them take it anyway. After all, they've been waiting an hour."



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