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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, January 21, 2008

Small Town News

by capper

When Grandpa capper retired in the mid-70s, he and Grandma capper moved up to their land in central Wisconsin. At that time, there was a weekly paper from the nearest town, Iola, called the Iola Herald. It was put out by the Little Wolf Publishing Corp. and was just about what you would expect from a small town paper.

I'll never forget how I thought it was really cool, yet at the same time, unbelievably dorky, that they would publish under a section of town events, something like, "Grandma and Grandpa got a visit last week from their grandson, Little capper. Grandpa capper took Little capper fishing at Lake Iola, where they caught a bucketful of bluegills and two trouts." I mean, you know you're talking small town, when visiting your grandparents makes the local paper.

As time went by, the paper was sold, and a couple, Trey and Mary Foerster, bought the Herald and the Manawa Advocate, another small town weekly. They made a lot of changes to the papers, including merging them for cost-savings purposes. They also cut out the little town news that made it so hokey and yet charming.

I still get the paper, just to keep up on local events, local ordinances, etc, that would be otherwise unavailable to me. For the most part, except for the few things that I have an interest in, the paper is useless to me. Out of the usual 24 pages or so in each issue, at least a third of it is dedicated to the local high school sports teams. The rest is advertising, a religious page, five pages of classifieds, and usually a couple of pages of "news stories" that are simply advertising for local businesses.

Sometimes they do have something interesting, like the events around that wild and wacky season, Potato Appreciation Month. I'm sorry, but I digress. My point is that even though the paper is not has quaint, it still has a small town feel about it.

Until this week.

As I sat down to peruse the paper, it was the subarctic temperatures that put a chill through me. It was the headline of the paper. It read:

Iola Herald purchased by Journal Communications Inc.

It is bad enough that the Journal owns the only daily paper here in Milwaukee, but also a TV station, and a radio station. They also own MKE, the CNI papers, and other publications and stations around the country. Now this. It keeps getting harder and harder to find accurate and unbiased news in this world.

Sheesh, with one of my last refuges from the chaos of the big city, I'll still have to put up with the likes of Patrick McIlheran.

Oh, how I sometimes really miss the good old days.

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