2018-03-14 / Opinion

Up The Creek Without A Paddle

The Public Has A Right To Know!
by Terry Toole

One of the first and most important things to do with the Miller County Liberal when I took over in the late 1970s was to try to inform the public about what was happening in our city, community, county, state and some about our nation.

I really wasn't the one to take over this newspaper, and I knew it better than anyone. I still have my doubts, like some of you. My predecessors, Grandma Zula, my Dad, my Uncle Bert and Aunt Willie Priest, had other thoughts. I was born, reared and hope to die right here in this business, I almost got my wish not too long ago.

I have wished 10,000 times that I had been educated to become an editor and publisher, and I can imagine that many of our readers wished the same.

When I bought this newspaper back almost 40 years ago, I read and gleaned everything I could about newspapers. Other than being born and brought up under some real newspaper folks and getting to know some of the best after I took on this job, I guess having a little printer's ink in my veins might have helped. Who would have thought I would last at least 40 more years in this business after I took over?

Before it's too late, let me tell our readers, I wish I had done better for you all. It wasn't that I didn't put in the time. On the other hand, I've had some of the best teachers and helpers that I could have asked for, and none of them, save one, was a college professor.

My reason for changing my mind when I was told that I was in line to buy this newspaper was that Grandma Zula started it 122 years ago, in 1897. It was the first in the this state, and maybe the nation, to be run by a woman who couldn't even vote because she was a woman.

My Uncle Bert, who called me to help him lift the lead plates on the press and pick lead out of his eyes, told me if I didn't buy the Liberal, it was going to get out of the Toole family. I told them it was going, I wasn't able to buy it or publish it. They made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I have never been sorry for that decision, and it's because of those of you who have supported us all these years. I'm not smart enough to determine who is the most important, our readers and subscribers or our advertisers. It really isn't too hard to choose; it's both. Without both, there would be no Miller County Liberal. If you don't have subscribers and readers, you don't have advertisers. If you don't have advertisers, you don't have the funds to print the next newspaper.

When I first bought this newspaper, we had one grocery ad each week that helped us pay the bills. The month that I started paying the bills, the sole grocery ad dropped out, and I had to pay for the printing, the salaries, the supplies, which were many, and the payment for the Liberal. I was much younger, and thank goodness didn't realize what responsibility I had acquired. We got out and sold enough ads and subscriptions to pay the bills, and have never missed a payment or edition. I give all the credit to God and His goodness. Still do!

This is Sunshine Week in the newspaper business for most of us. Sunshine Week is set aside to let our readers remember that in newspapers, It's Your Right to Know.

Join the professional and not so professional editors, publishers, reporters, writers, paperboys, (the paid and especially the unpaid) who help us get you access to public information and what it means for you and your community.

We, especially at the Miller County Liberal, need your help to demand to know what is going on with your taxes, your business and your city, county, state and nation. It is the basis of our freedoms in this great nation.

Times in my life have changed for the good and the bad. The writer and philosopher George Santayana, wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

We are losing many of our freedoms because we don't know what is going on, or much worse, many don't really care until they wake up and find that we have lost or allowed some of our most precious freedoms to be taken. Knowledge and good leadership can make our nation great again with works by our citizens, and hometown newspapers are vital to our nation.

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