KOUTOULAS: The best is yet to come

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, October 8, 2020

This week is National Newspaper Week, a time set aside to recognize the service of newspapers and their employees across North America.

It seems like a good time to talk about the enduring role of newspapers in our world — and right here in Winchester.

My mother and father were both readers. Mom read a lot of novels and magazines. I don’t think I ever saw a nonfiction book in my dad’s hands.

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Dad was a chef. When he passed away a few years ago, we went through his things. The only books he possessed were cookbooks, Bibles and books about his native Greece.

But I said dad was a reader, didn’t I? He was. His primary source of information about the world was his morning newspaper.

I hold a vivid picture in my mind of him performing his morning ritual: cigarette in hand, coffee cup nearby and the newspaper spread out before him on the table.

He would usually start with the sports section. He had to check on the latest news about his favorite teams — the Chicago Cubs, Bears and his beloved Kentucky Wildcats.

Next, he would turn to the front page and read through the national and state news of the day. I don’t think dad ever missed a day reading through the newspaper.

I guess I picked up my newspaper habit from dad. I’ve subscribed to multiple papers for most of my adult life.

Times change. Newspapers are no longer the primary source of news for many people. They have been supplanted by cable television news and a myriad of online sources, including — unfortunately, in my opinion — social media.

But newspapers are still with us, and most are adapting to the realities of new media, if belatedly so.

These days I still have my morning newspaper routine, although it no longer involves ink on newsprint. I subscribe to digital versions of three daily papers — the Lexington Herald-Leader, the New York Times and The Washington Post.

I get my local news, naturally, from The Winchester Sun.

I generally check the website daily, and twice a week, I get to perform that old ritual my dad taught me — getting ink on my hands handling the printed copy.

But for the most part, I don’t read the papers the way I used to.

Online, it’s much easier to scan and select articles of interest. It’s convenient to be able to browse and search through archived articles.

I love The Winchester Sun because the people who manage and write for the paper recognize and embrace their role.

The Sun exists to inform the people of Winchester and Clark County. Now more than ever, the focus is on our community.

I appreciate Fred Petke for keeping a watchful eye on the goings-on of local government and the crime beat. I love Randy Patrick’s feature articles about places, events and people around town. Whitney Leggett does a fantastic job of pulling this all together, and occasionally contributes some excellent writing of her own.

And I am humbled and grateful to be included among a group of community columnists whom I consider to be as good as those of any newspaper our size, anywhere.

All in all, I’d say our town is quite fortunate to have a newspaper like The Sun. I can’t imagine where we would be without it.

Can you? Dare you?

I recently got to meet with The Sun’s new publisher, Kevin Smith. I came away impressed that Kevin understands well the role this paper plays in Winchester and Clark County. He stressed to me the importance of a local paper as both a cheerleader for the community and a watchdog.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation. I have decided to work harder to focus this column on local issues, or at least on a local angle to broader issues.

I will seek to promote our area by emphasizing the things we are doing well. And to point out those areas where I think we can do better.

I still believe our best days are ahead of us. For Winchester and for The Winchester Sun.

Pete Koutoulas is an IT professional working in Lexington. He and his wife have resided in Winchester since 2015. Pete can be reached at pete@koutoulas.me or follow him on Facebook at fb.me/PeteTheSun.