Remembering our first century of news

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This week we get to celebrate a most unusual achievement. The Donalsonville News is 100 hundred years old. That is an extraordinary achievement for any newspaper, but for a small, rural weekly, it is even more special.

There is no doubt that the gathering and dissemination of news is much different today than a century ago. The way people get their news is even different from just 20 years ago. You will probably have a prediction of who will win today’s New Hampshire primary long before the polls actually close. That could have taken weeks back in 1916.

Events surrounding World War I were very much in the news in February of 1916. Paris had been bombed for the first time by German Zeppelins. The United States was considering entering the war. The PGA was just being formed. Enrico Caruso had just recorded “O Solo Mio” for the first time for the Victor Talking Machine Company.

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Today we are still reporting about wars, sports and music. The difference is you can watch and hear the action live on your phone or iPad.

However, a local community newspaper remains the primary source of information today about a number of items, especially in the absence of a local television or radio station. Where else is a citizen likely to find out about crime in our area, local politics, and community or arts events? Who is going to cover items concerning local taxes, local government actions, local schools and local jobs?

Who else is going to tell the story of your grandson’s homerun in little league or carry a picture of your granddaughter’s starring role in a school production? Who is going to report on our first New Year’s Eve celebration or our first Mardi Gras? Who is going to chronicle the passing of your loved one?

Many years ago, longtime editor and publisher, Waldo “Bo” McLeod asked me to write a column or two in his absence. Years later, I would like to think that he would be proud of the Donalsonville News as it enters its second century.

This newspaper is healthy, fresh, and well respected throughout the state. The paper takes its responsibility of being a community watchdog and provider of news seriously, but it also strives to be an agent of positive change for our community. We are especially proud of receiving the Community Service Award in 2014, presented jointly by the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Municipal Association.

Yet as much as things have changed over the past century, they are changing even faster today. To keep up with the changing needs of our reading public, the Donalsonville News is developing a new and innovative website, which will be connected with the new city and the chamber websites to provide updates on all the activities going on in our area. It is part of our continuing commitment to be the place you go to find out what is happening in our community.

Finally, the Donalsonville News is working to chronicle the rich and varied history of our city and county. We have diligently been identifying and cataloguing the thousands of photographs in our files. We hope to publish a book in the near future that will be the definitive visual history of Donalsonville, Iron City and Seminole County, as well as our neighboring communities.

While the Donalsonville News stands proudly on the shoulders of its many employees of the past 100 years, we are especially grateful to David Maxwell, Rhonda Worrell, Jennifer Welch, Mason Welch and Abi Meadows for their ongoing commitment to bringing you a quality newspaper, week in and week out.

So for the next year, help us celebrate the long life of the Donalsonville News. Watch for special events, articles and stories that gaze back on our past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. We are excited as we get ready to bring you the second century of news about Southwest Georgia.