Ronda Rich

Ronda Rich

So, let’s talk.

Newspapers are in a world of hurt right now. They have been staggering since 2008. 

We need newspapers. When someone walks up to me at church and pulls out a clipping of one of my columns, I know how much that column means because it’s tucked in the Bible. It was so interesting to see what Mama had tucked in her Bible. She had her daddy’s obituary (with his picture) and a wedding announcement of someone she was fond of, along with other things.

Without newspapers, what will we tuck in our Bibles? Tink and I subscribe to three newspapers — a local daily, a local weekly, and the Wall Street Journal. And we read them. My niece Nicole’s son played high school football last year and was a track star who finished high in the state meets. It seemed like every week, I was picking up the newspaper and watching Nix Burkett take a flying leap and make a tackle. I always cut them out. 

There’s a line in an old Miranda Lambert song that says, “Everybody dies famous in a small town.” That’s very true and that is primarily due to local newspapers who make stars out of the best cook in town, the fastest baseball pitcher, the folks who put in a turnip patch and give the turnips away to the local folks.

Please, look around at your local newspaper and view it as a brave warrior who is wounded and needs a hand. A mission field in your own backyard. If you don’t subscribe, please make a subscription now. If you already subscribe, please, think of someone who might enjoy a gift subscription.

How a newspaper chronicles the life of a small town is important for now and for the value it will have in the future. 

I have a friend named Sue Ramsey. I have never met her in person but I adore her. She is a historian who particularly enjoys the Civil War period. She lives in California. She researches a good bit for the Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Tink’s great-great-grandfather, Charlie Tinker, is buried.   

Sue, through her diligent research, has brought us so many Tinker stories. The majority of them she finds in newspaper archives. In fact, she researched an archive of New York papers and found almost 1,200 stories that mentioned Charlie Tinker. One of the clippings from Sue says: Mr. Charles A. Tinker, Civil War Telegrapher and Lincoln’s Friend, Dies.

Without newspapers, a lot of history would be lost.

I read Tink’s father’s memoir. He told the story that, when he took over at NBC, one of the problems he faced was that Barbara Mandrell wanted to quit her hit variety show. She had asked to have lunch with Grant Tinker, then dropped the bombshell. He said it was a reeling blow because her show was the only real hit that NBC had.

Well...

I loved “The Barbara Mandrell” show. And even though I loved my high school boyfriend, I almost had to quit him so I could stay home on Saturday nights and watch the Mandrell sisters. It came on at 8 and, usually, he picked me up around 7:30 (while Daddy was watching wrestling). Sometimes, I’d get him to stay long enough for us to watch the opening of the show.

All these years, I had wondered why the Mandrells stopped doing their show after only two seasons. When I read Grant Tinker’s book, I couldn’t wait to ask. Finally, I was going to know.

We were visiting one day and I edged up on my seat, “Grant Tinker, I want to ask you something. I read your book and you talked about Barbara Mandrell leaving her show. Why did she quit?”

He looked pensive for a minute. He studied on it and said, “Hmmm. I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember?!” I was almost screeching. “How could you not remember???”

He shook his head. “I don’t recall. But she was a lovely woman. So nice and talented.”

This is another reason we need newspapers. We cannot count on human memory.

Please. For the sake of your children’s children, help your hometown newspaper in any way you can.

Ronda Rich is a best-selling author and syndicated columnist.

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