by Curt Kovener
The Times quietly noted an anniversary last week. In a pandemic it is not wise nor healthy to do so with a lot of public partying and fanfare.
It was at this time in 1980—40 years ago—that the newspaper you are reading was inaugurated.
The first week of December 1980, the Scott County Journal, then owned by David Bartle, began publication of a new newspaper called The Crothersville Times.
It wasn’t expected to last…but it did…it has.
The newspaper came under new ownership in March 1983 when the current Editor, perhaps in a moment of weakness, purchased the publication and went from being employed reporter to Editor-Publisher-Photographer-Circulation Director-Delivery Supervisor-Business Agent-and Complaint Department at the Times.
There have been considerable changes at the newspaper since that first issue. A much grayer editorial head of hair being among the most obvious. Other changes are not as apparent to readers.
In an ironic twist that life can provide, while David Bartle is still actively with us (and we confer periodically) the Scott County Journal he sold to Green Banner Publications in the late 1980’s is not. After the Journal closed its doors in May 2018, the Times has begun filling the news and legal notice gap for Scott as well as Jackson County.
When the Times began four decades ago, it was produced by keyboarding stories directly into a phototypesetter which printed out stories after a l-o-n-g strip of paper went through a chemical solution to make the type magically appear.
The next technological improvement required a bit of ingenuity. We acquired a used but more up-to-day typesetter which could be plugged into a computer. That would allow stories to be written and saved to disk and then typeset after they were edited. I didn’t have an IBM computer running DOS but I did have a Commodore 64 which could send information out in ASCII coding that the typesetter could understand.
While many pooh-poohed the idea, for a number of years the Times was produced with that toy computer.
In the mid-1990s the newspaper switched to the Macintosh computer and our desktop publishing era began. Though, being a skeptic, it was several years before we got rid of the obsolete phototypesetter & processor.
I splurged on that first Mac computer and got the larger 80 megabyte hard drive rather than the standard 40 meg. It added about $300 to the price tag as I recall but I thought the investment would be worth it to have extra capacity.
Today the newspaper uses thumb drives which are slightly larger than fingernail clippers and hold more than 100 times as much information than that original Mac hard drive. Several years of the Times’ electronic pages are now archived on one of those thumb drives with room to spare.
Now in the midst of a global pandemic I work wirelessly in the wilderness in the middle of nature to produce the weekly newspaper checking in a couple of times a week at our offices in Crothersville and Scottsburg.
Over the years I have found that while the cast of characters and communities may change, the plot and theme has not. Crothersville and Austin are still one stoplight towns; Scottsburg, owing to its size and growth, has more opportunities to stop in traffic.
Our residents still want a safe community in which to live, a good school for our children, safe water to drink and don’t want to be bothered with whatever happens after we flush the toilet because that’s now the sewer utility’s problem. We all want more business in our communities while we continue to prefer to shop out of town.
We still commute out of town to work and watch out-of-towners commute in to work at local manufacturers.
We still like to complain about taxes but always want police, fire and ambulance services paid by those taxes readily available in case we need them.
One other thing I have found over the past 40 years, despite all of the new, innovative technology, I still work too many hours. And I have found that those ‘smarties’ who say “You don’t need to work harder, you need to work smarter” usually have someone to whom they can delegate their work duties.
One final thing that hasn’t changed over the past four decades, even though the newspaper has ‘gone green’ by using soybean based ink and recycled newsprint, the ink still rubs off on your fingers as you read the paper.
Thank you for putting up with dirty fingers all these years.