It almost brought a tear to our eye when we came across a stirring piece in an 1880 copy of the Red Bank Register, apparently reprinted from the Burlington Hawkeye, "Iowa's Oldest Newspaper." Although it was written 130+ years ago, it seems more relevant than ever.
Step into our DeLorean and cruise back to 1880, with this bit transposed from an issue on January 1st, 1880.
The weekly press has gradually grown up into a powerful, as well as social engine, diffusing information on all subjects of interest, and reflecting great credit on the able men who have control of the various journals. The newspapers have within the past few years greatly increased in numbers and size, and improved in literary character.
They are to be found in every town of importance in the States, and a poorly edited sheet is rarely seen. The publishing and editing of these papers involves considerable expense, and the fact that they are maintained is evidence of the intelligence and enterprise of their readers. We are glad to speak a good word for our weekly contemporaries for we recognize the talent that is displayed in conducting them and wish them increased success in the future.
We would also urge upon the people of each community to necessity of giving their paper the most cordial support. The local paper is what gives strangers their knowledge of the character of the people, of the country where the paper is published, and in proportion to the support given will the journal be conducted. The town that is not able or which refuses to support its local paper lacks the enterprise that will bring prosperity to the county and deserves to sink into decay. But that town that has a live, fearless and energetic newspaper, and there are many of them, sends the intelligence all over the land and the people know that such towns are thriving and prosperous. It is, of course, the proper thing to subscribe to at least one of the large city dailies, but the first duty of the citizen is to support his local journal for the sake of patronizing home industries if for no other, but the return he will receive will far outmeasure all that it will cost him. The press has ever upheld the strictest principles of morality, truth and justice, and citizens may well be proud of the many able exponents of their principles.
Reading begets reading. The habit of reading builds up a love for literature, a thirst for news, a desire to extend the range of daily thought. For that purpose every citizen needs his home paper for the home news, and one or more other periodicals for himself and his family. Our views upon this matter are not, therefore, unreasonable. The more the home papers are strengthened and built up and the communities are composed of reading people, the greater will be the progress of periodical literature and all legitimate publishing interests will prosper accordingly. Take your home paper − Burlington Hawkeye.
We're in the midst of an industry shift. The barrier to entry of news publishing has been dropped so low that anybody with the passion to report on local news can get started for a few dollars a month, if not for free.
The mix of social technology and tightly knit communities has fueled the growth of online, independent publishers whose livelihoods depend on loyal readers and supportive local businesses.
The Red Bank Register was a weekly-turned daily, covering news big and small from 1878 to 1991 in the area of Red Bank, NJ. It didn't take a slow news day to report on birthday parties taking place, lost pets, and neighborhood gossip. It was a true hyperlocal.
Here is the original clipping: