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Tag Archive | "30 years"

Happy 30th birthday to us


by Lois Allen

Thirty years. The Post has been here for 30 years! When I started the Post operations in 1988, I wasn’t sure we’d make it thirty days! But we have. Starting with a staff of three, my mother, Alice, myself, and shortly after, a salesperson. We struggled to produce and publish the small weekly paper.

I had worked for The Squire doing administrative work. No reporting. But after the Squire was sold in 1988, the new owner had no interest in owning the Post. The Post had been produced in Rockford at the Squire offices. It was then that I became a publisher. 

Operations began in the old Kent Theatre building. Not the theater part, which was then used for storage by the previous owners, but in an office area in the building. A small office with small rent. Almost too small for my mother and me to work together!

It was so long ago, that we didn’t even use computers. Oh, I had one. It was a Mac. The screen was about the size of a toaster. There was no software for layout or ad composition. Everything was cut and paste on a light table. Very labor intensive.

I wasn’t even sure what a newspaper did. I knew I had to cover accidents and fires, so I bought a $50 used camera and a police scanner. With my Mac, a copy machine, a waxer and my mother, I began to make a newspaper. Then I became a journalist. 

I lived in Rockford at the time and having grown up in Grand Rapids, I didn’t know a soul in Cedar Springs. I was alone and on my own. But the one thing I learned quickly was that the people here loved their little local newspaper. It kept me going when things seemed overwhelming. 

After two years of consistent publishing without missing a week, I went down to GR City Hall and applied to be a legal newspaper. Quite an accomplishment for three employees, although my mother wasn’t really an employee because we didn’t pay her.

As each issue hit the streets, I began to understand the value of a local newspaper and what it did for a community. I could see that it is definitely a public service, however not supported with tax payer money. All funding came from advertising dollars paid by the local businesses which is why I hired a salesperson. 

We were always grateful to have just enough advertisers who said “yes” to the local paper, giving us enough revenue to pay the bills and our meager paychecks. It was, and is, a labor of love. You don’t get rich and there were no benefits, no 401K, no health care and sometimes no paycheck. 

It’s difficult to place a value on what we [the newspaper] offer to a community. While other news publications covered several communities, we covered just the one. If it was important to the people of Cedar Springs, we covered it.

It was also near the time when shoppers began to “bloom” as journalists were laid off and news print with advertising minus the news was the new way to advertise. Then came the internet and then Face Book, and now tariffs that threaten all newspapers, big and small.

I don’t think anyone can truly understand what a miracle it is that the Post is still here with so much going against it. There were times when our bank balance was literally at zero. I would write a check to the printer and then go out and collect money from advertisers to cover it. At one point, we mortgaged our building to keep going. Another time, during a severe wind storm, the roof from our neighboring building blew off and landed on top of us, just like the wicked witch of the West! We lost power, but we got the paper out that week anyway.

There are 30 years of “behind the scenes” stories I could tell about running a weekly newspaper. I like to joke and say that I don’t run the paper, it runs me! We have never missed an issue, not one. Missing just one week would mean the paper would lose its legal status and no longer be able to print legal or public notices. No pressure!

Now, we have a staff of five. All working together like a well-oiled machine. I wouldn’t be lying if I said we’re all pretty tired, especially on Wednesdays when the paper is finished and “put to bed” for Thursday’s delivery. Everyone works hard especially our super duper editor, Judy Reed, who I think we all agree does an outstanding job of covering all the important stuff that CNN and other news agencies don’t. She’s our only reporter doing the work of three. 

There’s an old newspaper saying, and I mean really old, that goes, “A dog bite in [Cedar Springs] is bigger news than a war in Europe!” And that has proved true to this day. It also applies to coyote attacks as well, which we also covered in this week’s issue.

The story of the local newspaper can be summed up as a whole bunch of challenges and obstacles. This little paper has overcome them all! And it’s never, ever boring.

We continue to struggle and will always struggle like a print form of David & Goliath, as advertising dollars continue to leave newspapers to go to other, more exotic and “smart” ad venues. And yet, we still survive. Truly a miracle.

We especially appreciate and owe our survival to the businesses that continue to say, “Yes, we want to advertise in our local newspaper.” With so many other choices they are truly our heroes. They are vital to us. They invest in community by giving back more with their ad money, delivering an invaluable service to you, the people that call Cedar Springs home.

Will The Post make it another year, or another 30? I hope so, but we never know. I need to wrap this story up, as it’s Wednesday night and they’re waiting for this piece so the paper, and then we, as well, can go to bed.

Happy birthday Cedar Springs Post!

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