By PATTY LOUISE / Through his career from sports editor to editor and publisher, Miller covered every beat at the paper. “Train derailments, crashes, tornadoes … One of the advantages of a small paper is you have a wide variety of news events you get to cover. A large daily gives a reporter just a narrow patch to learn.’’ Large daily newspapers, especially those owned by chains, have done more damage than anything else to journalism, Miller said. “Editors are in and out. Nobody puts down roots because they’re aiming for the next big jump. “The bottom line is all they care about. Hell, if I was interested in the bottom line I’d be in another line of business.’’
By PAT LOUISE / Twenty-nine years ago the Woodstock Sentinel, the daily newspaper in Woodstock, Illinois, merged with another daily, leaving the city of 25,000 an hour north of Chicago without its own newspaper. At the time, Cheryl Wormley and a friend worked for the local school district. Neither had any journalism experience. Still, they quit their jobs, took second mortgages on their homes and launched a weekly newspaper, the Woodstock Independent, in April 1987. Where a daily failed, a weekly succeeded. And across the country, the story of the Independent follows a pattern repeated by community weekly newspapers: They not only survive but thrive. While the constant retreat of large daily newspapers in coverage, content and circulation creates a belief that newspapers no longer matter and journalism is dying, community papers continue to be a solid presence in their communities.