Boots-on-the-Ground Reporting

Route drivers deliver The Rockdale Reporter every Wednesday within a 30-mile radius of the Central Texas town.

Route drivers deliver The Rockdale Reporter every Wednesday within a 30-mile radius of the Central Texas town.

In Rockdale, Texas, about an hour’s drive northeast of the state capital city Austin, the Cooke family has owned The Rockdale Reporter since June 1, 1911. This award-winning community newspaper, established in 1893, technically is a Thursday publication. My write-up about my trip to The Rockdale Reporter was featured in “Wednesday’s Headlines,” a new, and very smart, offering from Bob Ramsak, a reporter, photographer, and blogger at http://www.pirancafe.com:

Wednesday’s Headlines #3 – Small is Beautiful

The Rockdale Reporter — technically a Thursday publication for those subscribers who receive it by mail — is delivered for same-day readership every Wednesday in Central Texas.

The Rockdale Reporter — technically a Thursday publication for subscribers who receive it by mail — is delivered for same-day readership every Wednesday in Central Texas. To learn more about The Rockdale Reporter, and community newspapers in Texas, read my 2014 magazine story at www.texascooppower.com/texas-stories/life-arts/success-stories.

Every Wednesday, around noon, a truck delivers thousands of copies of The Rockdale Reporter straight to the newspaper building’s back door from nearby Bryan in Central Texas. Fresh off the presses of The Eagle newspaper in Bryan, where it is printed, The Rockdale Reporter is immediately readied for same-day delivery to a variety of locations within a 30-mile radius.

Production Manager Shannon Whorton whips through stacks of soon-to-be-mailed newspapers with the aid of an electric label dispenser.

Production Manager Shannon Whorton uses an electric label dispenser to prepare newspapers for mailing.

The Rockdale Reporter is prepared for mailing with the help of this Dispensa-Matic “U-45” labeler.

The Rockdale Reporter is prepared for mailing with the help of this Dispensa-Matic “U-45” labeler.

On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, a truck delivered 4,830 copies of The Rockdale Reporter to the newspaper. While Production Manager Shannon Whorton prepared 2,000 newspapers for mailing, labeling the papers with an electric dispenser and tossing them into plastic tubs that co-worker Cliff Dungan carried to a van, the rest of the newspapers were delivered by regular drivers for same-day readership.

Cliff Dungan, a printer, photographer, and fix-it man for The Rockdale Reporter, carries a tub of just-labeled newspapers to the newspaper’s van. Next stop: the post office next door.

Cliff Dungan, a printer, photographer, and fix-it man for The Rockdale Reporter, carries a tub of just-labeled newspapers to the newspaper’s van for delivery to the post office next door.

Dungan, who would eventually fill the newspaper van with almost 20 tubs, jokes that it takes more gas to start the van than it does to drive it to the loading dock of the post office next door.

But week after week, driven delivery to the post office is necessary: With a circulation of almost 5,000, The Rockdale Reporter is reaching a lot of readers throughout Central Texas. The newspaper’s staff boots-on-the-ground reporting gives readers the vibrant journalism so necessary for the health of any town or city.

So essentially — save for the 2,000 newspapers scheduled for Thursday mail delivery — The Rockdale Reporter is a Wednesday paper. Sure enough, about an hour after the delivery truck left, people were showing up at the newspaper’s front door, plunking coins into the old-fashioned newspaper rack and getting their weekly, Wednesday, journalism fix.

Eugene Lane, an 82-year-old Rockdale resident who has been reading The Rockdale Reporter for 40 years, grabs a newspaper hot off the press.

Eugene Lane, an 82-year-old Rockdale resident who has been reading The Rockdale Reporter for 40 years, grabs a newspaper hot off the press.

The Rockdale Reporter, established in 1893 and owned by the Cooke family since 1911, is one of Texas’ most successful community newspapers.

The Rockdale Reporter, established in 1893 and owned by the Cooke family since 1911, is one of Texas’ most successful community newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s