In case you missed it — and everyone we talked to did — the folks over at the Hillsboro Free Press announced last week that they would start charging to publish obituaries, births, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, reunions, and card showers.
The Free Press, whose name now seems a bit inappropriate, blames rising costs and, presumably, lagging sales. These also appear to be what motivated them to cut by more than half the reach of their Newton-based shopper and take on an out-of-county partner.
While times have not been the greatest, we are sad to see the Free Press take such drastic actions.
To us, publishing “people” news isn’t a favor to the people involved. Big-city papers may charge, but in a small town, printing such news without charge is an important way to help ensure that the community remains close-knit and vibrant.
Folks living down the street, even halfway across the county, are people we know and care about. When you know the people involved, births, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, and reunions are every bit as much news as are the latest actions of the County Commission.
Knowing what goes on in the lives of all our neighbors — not just those with enough money to afford to spread the word — is part of what makes living in a small town special. And charging to run any news story is something that makes our skin crawl.
The cost to our community — and to our ethics — is a price we simply aren’t willing to pay.