Section 1: Q: Do you print your own newspaper?
A: No. It goes to Red Oak. When I bought that
paper, when I re-married then, my husband
wanted the back for the garage, we had a
steam-fed press that was an abolitionists
press from Nauvoo, Illinois and dumped in the
river and then taken to Corning, Iowa and
then we bought it. So, I saved some parts
from it. We are going to use it when we re-do
the kitchen. I gave two California cases of
type to a poet up northeast of me. Lives in a
small town. I hope he realizes I loaned them
and not gave them. We had a hand-fed press, a
couple of those, and then we had some other
old machines. I kept the old proof press. The
thing you could roll on. But we got rid of a
lot of that stuff. It was just dust catchers.
I sold a lot of it. Actually, I probably put
a good down payment on my daughter's tuition
one year when I sold the type drawers.
Q: How do you distribute the paper?
A: Mail. And also in the stores. We live in
such a long geographic area. Our school
district, which is my paper, takes parts of
four counties. In fact, I think at one time
we had the fifth largest area district of
anybody in the state as far as bus routes.
Q: How many cross-overs do you
have in circulation?
A: There are seven hundred in town and I
can't tell you how many would be out in the
Q: What I am getting at is penetration
of "X" percent of the homes.
A: Weekly papers have pass-along values. It
is unlike a daily paper. This is passed to
two or three houses. So, I don't know what
the penetration is.
Q: A good shelf life.
A: I think we do. But I think it is by virtue
of being a weekly. But also being a small
weekly. Somebody came in and wanted a paper
from two weeks ago. They hadn't had a chance
to read it. And it wasn't free. They were
kind of disgruntled. But they paid their
thirty-five cents. I don't know. I know my
subscribers would be 1350, but I just don't
know how you would figure the penetration.
The people in California are just very, very
good about subscribing. Of course, that
doesn't do me any good advertising-wise, but
they really are.
Q: Are you considering adding
color? Not colored photographs, but spot
A: I would do it if I thought it could be
done well, but if you don't do it well.
Q: Would it increase circulation?
A: I don't think it would increase
circulation, but I would like to try it. I
would like to do a four-color, too. I can do
the color separation on my computer, but I
have to learn how. I don't know if it would.
Color, sometimes, unless you have really the
registers marked on, they just don't look
right. A thing happened, and I pointed this
out last night, a paper I exchange with had
one yellow sheet. It had some houses on it
and some cars. You turned it over and there
were some human faces. Well, that is
just...if you are talking color. I know that
is not what you are talking about, but that
still is colored paper. If you can get good,
sharp color, yeah, I probably would use it.
And I have before, on Valentine's Day. But if
they request it, they pay for it. But I only
charge them what I get charged.
Q: I have a question about the
merger. The Stanton Viking, the logo here
says "the Voice of the Little White City."
A: That is where I did take a stand. Stanton
is a Swedish community and by a law, but not
really in the books, every house has to be
white because that is what houses in Sweden
were. Also, the depot was white. I think it
is the only white depot on the Burlington
Northern when it went through there. So,
people were saying this. I belong to the
Stanton Chamber of Commerce. I thought it was
just hysterical. Well, Nebraska football
players came over to play basketball. They do
that to raise money. Well, of course, these
three black football players just got a hoot
out of that and were asking about it. So,
now, the Chamber has talked about changing
the "little white city." And I said, "Let it
go. If people are going to pick on it..."
Well, I think they may change it. And I may
take that off. But if people are going to be
that picayune, I just hate to think of it. --
Section 2: Q: You mentioned you have some advice or
rules to give to people when they are
interviewing for print journalists.
A: OK. Young men, don't wear hats, for God's
sake, inside, if you are going to interview.
For the men and women, don't wear more
jewelry than the person interviewing you. You
see people going in there, they look like
they are a bride of some religion with all
this jewelry on. And that is not going to
probably go with the people you are going to
talk to. You have to be neatly dressed. Jeans
are no problem. You can't go with the
attitude that, "I am a graduate of Iowa
Journalism and you better darn well respect
me." Because that is not where it is at. And
this gal I picked up who has never had any
journalism experience is doing terrific. Just
knows how to talk to people. If you are not a
people person, do research. And I think that
is important. I think you have say, "Are you
dedicated to journalism?" "Yes, I am." But
you have to be able to tell them why. I think
sometimes, you find people who come in and
want jobs, and they don't have a clue of what
the real life is like. They come in with
their baseball hats backwards. "Here I am. I
can write sports." That is fine, but that is
not really what...it is just like all the
high school coaches used to wear shorts. I
think they have done away with that. There
was always a high school that had some coach
that wore shorts. And, be willing to work. If
you just want forty hours, I have said
before, find another avocation or profession.
Public relations would probably work for you.
Broadcasting would work for you. Community
Q: You have said you are done with
reporting and done photography. You do
editorials now. Do you still do some of the
reporting and picture-taking?
A: Oh, yeah. I do the sports. I do the sports
because I have got the greatest collection
from basketball of crotch and armpit shots in
the world, because you have got to know where
they are going to jump. I finally learned you
don't go for the basket. You go for other
things. Because I know what I want in a
picture. And people that take pictures. God
help them. We get people that bring in
pictures and they think it is a good picture.
The one I violated here, it is the school
board talking to some FFA [Future Farmers of
America] members. I did not use the people's
name, but I wanted to show the number of
people that showed up. Otherwise, I always
use faces, close up, and shots. If I have a
story that I feel strongly about, and it is
hard to give somebody on how to write
something, then I will do it myself. But I
usually end up doing the sports because
nobody else wants to do it. I have an
eighty-five year old woman, actually she came
down to see her daughter, who goes with me to
these sports. She loves sports. She is up on
the Hawks and everything else. So, she goes
to the sports and sits with me. Then I wander
off and take pictures and come back sit with
her. She is a good companion. My husband
doesn't go, because he always gets set next
to the violent fan, the one that starts
yelling and screaming. So, he just doesn't go
to them. If I ask him, he does. But, usually,
I just do it alone. --
Section 3: Q: What is the single article you are
proud of - to be a responsive journalist?
A: One of them was those little boys in the
mud. I think the other thing is the first
column I did when I had cancer, explaining
what it was about and the chemotherapy. I
have become something of an advocate. People
will call me and ask how they should deal
with their...usually it is members of the
family saying, "What should I do and what
does my wife want and where are my
alternatives on medicine and what are the
side effects?" I think probably that,
because, when you have a disease, either
people like to talk about it all the time or
they don't want to talk about it. I would
like to think I have eased a little bit of
the secrets of what goes on in chemo.
Q: Conversely, is there an article that
you ran that you a theme, that you would
have taken back?
A: I wrote an editorial along with that. I
had watched my daughters sit out in their
wool bandsuits at every football game. They
had to go to the football game. You played at
every basketball game. And they would get up
the next morning. One day it just poured. I
always stayed because I felt it was unfair to
leave early. I wasn't taking pictures because
I didn't have my camera. My daughters sat
there. They got home with wet wool outfits.
Had to turn around the next morning and go
march in Clarinda. So I wrote an editorial. I
thought it was only fair if those band
members were at every football game and
basketball game, the athletes and coaches
should show up at every band concert. The
superintendent called me and said, "You
better head for it. The wrestling coach is
absolutely furious. And the others." They
were just livid. I thought it was such a
trivial thing. He said, "No, they are really
angry." For a while, the coaches did go to
the band things. But it is just a simple
little thing like that. I didn't think it was
a big deal. And, actually, it develops that
we have most of our athletes are in our vocal
choirs anyway. I think that was the one where
I got the most response from teachers. Which
are such an overpaid lot, but I didn't say
Q: I see that your paper is much in
line with your personal values and your
town's personal values, how do you feel that
your paper is different from the other small
town papers in the surrounding areas?
A: I think the style of writing. I would like
to think it is better than some of them, but
I don't know. I just think we are more
home-spun, more sense of humor. I have that
on my business card. "Community newspaper
with a sense of humor." But I really think
it does make a difference. I will tell you
the writing you get from people. We have to
edit absolutely everything. We have two
coaches that are very literate. But anything
that any teacher other than the elementary
teachers and those two coaches, we have to
edit. It is abominable. People can't write.
That is why I think it is such a hoot when
people say some woman ran off with some man
she met on the Internet. I thought, "My God,
how could they even write to each other and
understand it?" That is phenomenal to me. It
is amazing. Your guidance counselors write
some rather appalling letters. My sister is
in charge of the honors students at Iowa
State. Misspellings. What I tell these kids,
I go to Career Day and talk to them, I say,
"You don't need big words. You don't need
long sentences." William Faulkner had 235
words in a sentence in As I Lay Dying, which
had to be the dumbest book in the world.
Sorry about that. But, anyway, it was
difficult to read. I think if you are simple
and you just write so they can understand, it
is the best. And the story is, "The cat tried
to cross the road. The cat got run over. The
cat died." That tells the whole story in a
way. I am not saying you have to abbreviate
it too much. And we have a very active
"Letters to the Editor" column which we don't
edit. But we are going to after this week. I
just can't believe, I always want to say,
"Look. Count how many words Abraham Lincoln
had in the Emancipation Proclamation. The
Gettysburg Address. Do the same thing." But
that is the thing. If you can write, if you
come out of here with writing, you can do a
lot besides journalism. You can write letters
when you are upset with an airline or mayor.
If they are succinct. Our "Letters to the
Editor" column are just wild. We had a condom
war one year. Pro and con. Advising teenagers
to carry condoms. I always wanted to...I
thought a great promo for our town would be a
condom with "Villisca, a place to grow," but
the community wouldn't go for it.
Q: What doesn't get printed in a small
A: We do the locals on who visited whom. And,
boy, honey, they are really read. Not much. I
use very little canned stuff. Anything that
comes on the fax is about ninety percent
chance of getting tossed because we get fax
garbage all the time. It is just incredible.
The political candidates must have discovered
faxes. If somebody has a beef with someone, I
usually put it in if it is signed. I guess
maybe what I am most proud of is the fact
that they feel the "Letters to the Editor" is
their column, because they do write a lot of
times. And I even put in about me which makes
me uncomfortable. It is kind of funny that
they feel comfortable writing about me and
then asking me to put it in.
Q: Thank you.
A: Thank you. This has been fun. I hope you
kids will go into community journalism or, at
least, written word journalism.
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