On Nov. 4, I spoke to Deb Simmon’s fourth and fifth grade class at Nehalem Elementary. And, more importantly to the kids, I brought them delicious cupcakes from Sweet Perfection bakery in Tillamook.
I wanted to treat the two classes that had participated in the Headlight Herald’s Scary Story contest (you can read all their entries online at tillamookheadlightherald.com). I’m also planning to visit Janmarie Nugent’s class at Garibaldi Elementary.
The grand prize in our contest was a night’s stay at the Wheeler Hotel – not exactly an appropriate prize for a fourth grader – and it was quite hard to judge the entries.
Instead, I brought them some sweet treats.
At the end of my presentation, I even signed two autographs and received two gifts – a poem written by a little girl about her dog, and a tiny eraser that smells like chocolate. Thank you!
My favorite part of the experience was a question and answer session with students.
How long does it take to put together the paper? (I work on laying out the pages starting on Sunday evening through Tuesday at noon. But, really, it is the all-consuming, never-ending purpose of my life.)
How many times do you edit the stories? (Many times, right up until they go to press. Usually three sets of eyes see them.)
Would you like to meet my uncle? (Of course.)
One time, I was in the paper because I found an eagle that was hurt…
OK, this last one wasn’t a question. But kids are adorable, and when you ask if they have a question, they often have a statement.
In fact, the first five or six “questions” were from students who wanted to share about the time they were in their local newspaper.
I then asked students to raise their hand if they had been in the paper before. Nearly every hand in the classroom shot up.
Now that’s why people still read their hometown paper, and why a lot of large metro papers struggle. And I talked to the kids about that, too, because they’re pretty sharp, and they can understand things like that.
I told them community journalism is alive and well, and if you want to write when you grow up, you’ll still be able to get a job at a small town paper. It might not be a “paper” in the sense of ink and newsprint. Or maybe it will be. But it’ll still be around, that I’m sure of. This paper is the longest, continually running business in the county.
I once heard that as long as there are refrigerators, there will be community papers. Because all those kids have a clipping of the time they were in the paper. Births, weddings, obituaries, the big game, Johnny’s first Chinook, Ms. Simmon’s fourth and fifth grade class – that’s really the heart of the newspaper.