" It is absolutely wonderful to have a hometown newspaper, the Rushville Recorder, off and running again! I admit I have high expectations for this newspaper and for the willingness of the people, businesses, and civic organizations to support it - because it’s local! " Paul Barada Guest Columnist

How cool is it that Rushville has its own newspaper again? A few weeks ago The Rushville Republican, the oldest newspaper in the state, founded in 1840, was merged, along with the Batesville Tribune, into the Daily News, formerly known as the Greensburg Daily News. The decision wasn’t made at the local level, but by the folks at CNHI, Community Newspaper Holding, Inc., headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. CNHI owns dozens and dozens of smaller market newspapers all over the place, so merging three into one was a corporate decision based, I suspect, mostly on the bottom line, as business decisions usually are.

The old Republican had been struggling for years. It used to publish every day of the week, including Saturdays, back in the 1970s. The print version had, however, been on a downhill slide pretty much since the advent of the cell phone and the introduction of on-line publishing. Personally, I prefer to hold a newspaper in my hand. That’s what we get to do once more with this first copy of the Rushville Recorder!

The Rushville Recorder is owned by Whitewater Publications, Inc. located in Brookville. They, like a lot of people, felt Rushville should have its own newspaper. Their representative, Cassie Roth, was in Rushville not very long ago to announce to Mayor Pavey and a few others, the plans to start the publication of a weekly newspaper that would feature nothing but news about Rushville and Rush County. The enthusiasm among the group was palpable! The general mood was, “How can we help?” No one had any reservations about bringing a local paper to life again.

It’s interesting to look back, just a little, at the gradual decline of our old paper, the Republican. The biggest factor was declining advertising dollars followed closely by fewer and fewer subscriptions, and lower over-the-counter sales coming in a distant third place. It is my fond hope that local businesses will get behind the Rushville Recorder and help make it a success – ad revenue is the key. We weren’t alone; however, newspapers everywhere, particularly smaller market newspapers, have also been feeling the pinch of declining advertising dollars. Take a look, for instance, at the smaller size of the Indianapolis Star. The Sunday edition of the Star used to be a huge newspaper, not so much anymore. The other factor in the Republican’s decline was the introduction of an on-line version of the paper.

So, what’s to be done about it? The answer is really pretty simple. Put out a newspaper that is a superior product with capable writers and reporters covering all the things going on in a well-written, easy to read style. Encouraging “Letters to the Editor,” and featuring columnists that readers like.
There’s another advantage to having this newspaper. Lots of parents and grandparents like to cut out and save items about their children and grandchildren to send to friends and relatives elsewhere. People still really do keep scrapbooks, believe it or not! It’s pretty difficult to do that with an on-line edition of a newspaper.

Another plus with having the Rushville Recorder is coverage of local sports, assuming we’ll have local sports this fall. I know that fall sports teams are practicing so there must be some expectation of having competition sometime after school starts.
Finally, a local newspaper has to be about local people and local events. If I want to read AP wire stories about events elsewhere I’ll subscribe to The Star. If I want national news I’ll subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. If I want to read about who won the high school cross country meet, I’ll buy the Rushville Recorder, thank you very much! We went through a period when whoever owned the old paper ran a lot of stuff right from the wire services. That’s not what I want from my hometown newspaper – I want hometown news! If I want to know what the Rush County Chamber of Commerce is doing or the Economic Development Corporation or the County Commissioners, I would like to read the full story in the Rushville Recorder.
Of course, it’s easier to just “cut and paste” copy that comes to newspapers, but I can read that information elsewhere, if I choose to! Generally speaking, I don’t expect half a page of copy on anarchy in Portland or anyplace else, for that matter, in my hometown newspaper. I’m far more interested in what our city council is planning to do to make this community an even better place to live. I’m far more interested in the results of the Rushville-Connersville football game or who won the Grand Champion ribbon at the county fair than I am in how things are coming along with the new sewer system in Kokomo!

It is absolutely wonderful to have a hometown newspaper, the Rushville Recorder, off and running again! I admit I have high expectations for this newspaper and for the willingness of the people, businesses, and civic organizations to support it - because it’s local! More directly, the Rushville Recorder is about you, each of you, your children, your achievements, sometimes your sorrows, your victories – our victories, our voices, our images, our hopes and dreams, as well as features about our past and those people who have helped make this a great place to raise our families and educate our children. I also look forward, humbly, to being given the opportunity to continue to share my opinions and thoughts with you each week!
That’s—30—again, for this week.