Community owns newspaper

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When I was just beginning my life as a reporter, I heard a veteran journalist offer this advice: “The small stories are the big stories.”

I think that’s an apt description of the life of a community newspaper.

Few things make me more proud than when I see something from a newspaper framed on a restaurant wall, tacked to a bulletin board or taped to a refrigerator.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

I’m not a stranger to Atmore, having read the newspaper regularly, covered stories here and worked with the staff of The Advance, but I know that I am a stranger to many of you.

I hope to change that soon.

My husband and I look forward to attending upcoming events and introducing our toddler son to Atmore’s parks.

I’ve worked for newspapers for nearly 15 years, but I’ve always resisted the urge to move to a bigger city. I love covering news in small communities; I love knowing how connected we all are — to the big stories and the small stories. I even love that readers don’t mind calling me at home on Saturday morning because their paper was late. At least I know they like to read it.

I became a journalist because I loved chasing something exciting — a storm was the first story.

My father recalls that when I called home from college during Hurricane Opal, breathless and excited about covering the biggest story of my short journalism career so far, he told my mother to discourage me from life as a reporter.

But the man who calls the editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal if his paper is late in the driveway probably knows that a love for newsprint is in my genes.

After all, the refrigerator in my childhood home was decorated with newspaper clippings about honor rolls and school plays, and our family scrapbooks hold yellowed copies of wedding announcements and obituaries.

The stories that make up a life — whether the life of a family or the life of a community — can all be found in the pages of a community newspaper.

This newspaper does not belong to us; it belongs to Atmore, because of the stories we tell. I am honored to be its caretaker, and our staff and I hope to make you proud.

Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 251-368-2123 or by e-mail at