STOKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The communities in this county have been taking in a weekly newspaper for 150 years now.
“It’s the eighth oldest newspaper in North Carolina,” said Neill Caldwell, editor of The Stokes News. “It’s the second oldest weekly behind the Franklin Times News.”
Originally called The Danbury Reporter, the paper merged with the former King Times News in 2002 and took on today’s name, The Stokes News.
Several archives of The Danbury Reporter have been archived and stored in the Walnut Cove Public Library.
“The Danbury Reporter was started in 1872 by Dr. John Pepper,” said Caldwell. “He was 77 when he bought the press from The Old Constitution newspaper when it folded and started running it with his sons.”
Much of what Dr. Pepper and his sons did 150 years ago, Caldwell does today.
“I don’t think the actual reporting has changed all that much, I think it’s still people going out and talking to people, listening and going to meetings and taking notes,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much the same.”
Caldwell started as a reporter on his 16th birthday and on the night we visited him he was celebrating his 63rd birthday by covering the City of King council meeting.
Weekly newspapers across America are today, for many are a one-man-show.
Caldwell is the reporter, photographer and editor. The paper has one part-time sports reporter, an advertising sales rep and an office assistant.
“Newspapers are struggling and it happens all over the country, all over the world,” he said. “But I think they still have value to people.”
The small-town weekly newspapers have long been the glue of a community, connecting neighbors. With all the changes still to come Caldwell hopes the heart and value of it all won’t fade with the headlines.
“When you see the finished product and you can hold it in your hands and say ‘oh that turned out pretty well that’s very satisfying,” he said.