We are all COVID exhausted, and more than ready for normalcy – or some semblance thereof. However, we cannot change the facts. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world, causing premature loss of loved ones, loss of businesses and jobs, and massive changes to lifestyles.
However, in our unique community, most will survive. Survival of the fittest in this case may well mean the fittest of community strength, the epitome of the signs around town stating that we are, in fact, ‘in this together’.
The County Journal celebrates its 15-year anniversary this week, not by happenstance, but by the strength of its owners and the support of the community it serves. Even through a pandemic, with most businesses shut down and an uncertain economy, this local newspaper beat the survival odds. How is that possible? Because of the owners’ determination, the staff members’ dedication and, without a doubt, the support of the business community along with the appreciation of The County Journal readers.
Started in 2006 by John Gaedert, a legend in the community, this local newspaper has stood the test of time. One of his closest friends, Vince Ferris, stated that John Gaedert was a total giver, who helped more people than most of us will ever know, while never wanting any credit. And that he was the sharpest, best marketing man Ferris has ever known.
With John Gaedert’s mentoring and foundation, his newspaper has withstood the onslaught of social media, which gives little thought to facts versus opinions; it has withstood the devastating loss in 2012 of founder John Gaedert; it has withstood necessary career changes; it has withstood a pandemic. If any business deserves admiration and dedication for its edurance, it has to be this small-town newspaper.
As we celebrate fifteen years strong, we must surely appreciate how and why this local newspaper survived and thrived. Travis Silvas, one of the three owners and a well known name in the community, was approached by John Gaedert in early 2006, seeking Silvas’ interest in helping him to start a new local newspaper. Having newspaper experience since 1999, Silvas became the managing editor from March of 2006 until October of 2019. Still an integral part of the newspaper staff, along with owners Cindy Gaedert-Gearhart and Denise Ensley, Silvas concentrates on the sports section and other duties in his spare time.
“There have been many memorable experiences over the years, from covering local events, to working with a number of incredible people. Nothing, though, tops the excitement and exhaustion of putting out our first edition on April 1, 2006. I was in the office for nearly 24 hours on deadline day prepping and finalizing the 52-page paper. We finished in the wee hours of the morning, 12 hours past our deadline,” Silvas said.
When asked about the impact The County Journal has had in his life, Silvas said “Up until recently, the local newspaper was the only profession I had known. It taught me a lot about people, about responsibility, and the role communication plays in our lives. It has been an honor to be a part of the communities The County Journal covers. We appreciate the trust and support our readers and advertisers have placed in us the past 15 years.”
And the future of The County Journal? In this case, I expect history will indeed continue to repeat itself. The owners will continue their dedication to integrity with factual reporting and results oriented advertising opportunities; the staff will continue their highest standards of quality work; the business community will continue to realize the vision of founder John Gaedert; and the readers will continue to enjoy a local newspaper that they can trust. In this formula, everyone wins.