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Tommy Druen: It all started with a cat

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By Tommy Druen

It all started with a cat. It was a lazy, fat, cynical orange cat that caught my interest. That cat possessed a hatred of Mondays and a love of lasagna. And his name was Garfield.

I was probably about six years old when I learned about Garfield. My grandfather had a daily subscription to the Courier-Journal and he introduced me to the comics section. It was the early 1980s and Garfield was hilarious, at least to an elementary student.

Soon, my interests expanded. Garfield introduced me to his friends, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, The Wizard of Id and so many more. My parents had subscriptions to our local paper and the Sunday Courier-Journal. I loved how they were different. I may have been one of the few kids in the 1980s entranced by the antics of Alley Oop, but I devoured it and most all the comic strips like crazy.

As I got a bit older, the comics were still my first stop in the newspaper. Soon I'd find myself with the sports section though. And the fascination kept growing as I would pore through the editorials and opinion pieces. Short of the classifieds, there wasn't much of the newspaper I didn't consume. It's a habit I still have, with multiple subscriptions and a habit of reading quite a few online each day.

Earlier this year, I learned the Clay City Times, my wife's hometown newspaper, was shuttering its doors. Powell County, a community of over 13,000, now finds itself without a local newspaper. Sadly, it's only the latest casualty in what is a disturbing trend. After 155 years of publishing, the Glasgow Daily Times, which I grew up on, printed its final edition in 2020. Readers of the Courier-Journal or Herald-Leader know they are only shells of their former glory, as pages and staff have been cut to bare bones.

The decline of newspapers in the United States is a problem that affects everyone, especially those in smaller communities. These community-based newspapers are the heart of local news, providing vital information that is not covered by larger media outlets. Unfortunately, as readership declines and advertising revenue dries up, these papers are struggling to economically stay afloat.

Local newspapers are essential for keeping communities informed about the issues that affect their daily lives. From school board meetings to local elections, these papers provide critical coverage that is often ignored by larger outlets. They also serve as a platform for local voices, giving citizens a chance to share their opinions and concerns with their neighbors. Without these publications, vital information can often be lost or ignored, leading to a less-informed citizenry and a less-engaged community.

While it could be hoped that the decline stems from a once unthought-of easy access to information, sadly that is not the case. Surveys have routinely shown that the decline of newspapers is closely tied to the rise of social media. Social media has made it easier for people to get news on their own time table, yet, as we all know too well, it is often unreliable or inaccurate. The "fake news" that permeates social media has led to a decline in trust in traditional media as well. The lack of faith in journalism has led us to a place where everyone believes their opinion, no matter how crazy it is, is just as valid as what is reported.

This is not a reason to give up on local journalism though. Rather, I would encourage people to return to it in a way they consumed it in a pre-internet era. Support your local newspaper and encourage others to do the same, so as to ensure the continued valuable coverage of a community. Subscribe. Even if you only read it online, a subscription can help provide the necessary revenue smaller publications need to continue operating. Advertise. Small businesses and community organizations are the backbone of a newspaper's budget. Not only does the advertising help the papers financially, but it also helps these businesses and organizations reach a wider audience.

There is an importance to newspapers that we cannot overestimate. Quotable as he was, one of the wisest utterances from the great P.T. Barnum was, "He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species."

The decline of local newspapers is a problem, but it is not insurmountable. By supporting these vital publications, we can ensure they continue to provide valuable information to our communities. Let's work towards a brighter future for our local newspapers and the communities they serve . . . and introducing our leaders of tomorrow to funny, orange cats. It just might make a positive impact on the future.

Tommy Druen is a native of Metcalfe County, with roots in Adair County going back to the 18th century. He presently lives in Georgetown, Kentucky and can be reached at

This story was posted on 2023-03-01 08:55:37
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