When the newspaper closed, this town library started one

Librarian Aroostine Brown, left, and library director Michael Sullivan, right, fold editions of the "Weare in the World" are stacked for distribution at the public library in Weare, N.H., Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Updated 06 February 2018
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When the newspaper closed, this town library started one

WEARE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, US: Weeks after Weare’s only newspaper shut down, a resident in came to librarian Mike Sullivan with a proposal: Why doesn’t he start one?
Sullivan jumped on the idea and, for the past year, has been producing Weare in the World.
The four-page publication comes out every week and is heavy on community events and calendar listings. The front page of one paper had a short story about an elementary school Lego team, a police association scholarship and details on a local bar’s Super Bowl party. There is also a popular crossword puzzle that has clues for local businesses or other landmarks in the town with 9,000 residents.
The goal is to create a sense of community and local pride, more civic engagement and “more energy around things that do happen around town,” said Sullivan, who produces 200 copies of the newspaper by himself in his tiny office crowded with boxes of donated books and several guitars he uses for music lessons.
He estimates each issue costs the library about $25, not including staff time.
The newspaper is the latest example of a library stepping into what Sullivan describes as a news desert to cover community news.
David Beard, a journalist who is finishing up a Harvard University research fellowship and has written about the paper for the Poynter Institute, said similar projects have been undertaken elsewhere. In South Dakota, there is the Black Hills Network that takes information from 13 libraries. NOWCastSA , which describes itself as public television for the Internet, is run out of a San Antonio, Texas, library.
“It’s more like a first step — listing and covering events, town histories, showing what makes a place unique and distinctive,” Beard said. “So many places in America don’t even have that now. If it stokes the need for greater news coverage in the town, all the better.”
But some suggest library newspapers are a poor substitute for the real thing, since they often lack fully reported stories, actual reporters and independence from town institutions.
Tommy Thomason, director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, said the trend reflects residents’ desire for information but also exposes the unique role that newspapers play in gathering it.
Librarians are experts in curating information that is already out there, not going out and getting information, he said.
“I can’t see a library ever sending someone to cover a school board meeting or a City Council meeting,” he said, “or, ‘Hey, there is a fire on the other side of town. We need to roll a librarian.’“
Sullivan is quick to acknowledge the shortcomings of his newspaper — call it a newsletter if you want, he says — but insists it is providing a much-needed public service. The quarterly that served the town, the Weare Free Press, closed last year and reporters from nearby dailies and weeklies rarely cover the town, he said.
“This has an awful lot of similarities to the early, early community newspapers,” Sullivan said. “It is a bit of a throwback and it’s meant to serve the people who don’t get their information through Facebook” or other online sources.
Boosters of the paper, including many town officials, said it is the only place residents can get information on events such as the annual Christmas party, the Weare Patriotic Celebration or town meetings. They say attendance at such events is up since Sullivan’s paper started publishing.


Biopic tribute to slain war reporter Marie Colvin as journalism comes ‘under attack’

Updated 22 October 2018
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Biopic tribute to slain war reporter Marie Colvin as journalism comes ‘under attack’

  • The movie, which got its world premiere in Toronto last month, hits screens as reporters face ever more threats
  • American war correspondent Marie Colvin died in an alleged government bombardment of a media center in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Homs

LONDON: A biopic of war correspondent Marie Colvin, who died in Syria in 2012, is a celebration of journalism as it increasingly comes “under attack,” according to the film-makers.
“A Private War,” released in US cinemas next month, chronicles the harrowing career of Colvin — played by “Gone Girl” star Rosamund Pike — who was an award-winning journalist for Britain’s The Sunday Times.
The feature film debut of director Matthew Heineman — an Oscar nominee in 2016 for his documentary “Cartel Land” — shows the reporter’s struggles to cope with the impact of reporting from the world’s conflict zones.
For Heineman, whose mother was a journalist, it is a “homage” to both Colvin and an increasingly besieged profession.
“It’s so important right now in this world of fake news and soundbites, where journalists are under attack, to celebrate journalism and to celebrate people like Marie,” he said at a London Film Festival screening Saturday.
The movie, which got its world premiere in Toronto last month, hits screens as reporters face ever more threats.
Actor Jamie Dornan — of the “Fifty Shades” franchise — who plays freelance photographer and longtime Colvin colleague Paul Conroy, said the work felt “timely.”
“This is a film about telling the truth,” he said on the red carpet. “Anything that can try to show true journalism in its finest light — the people who will go to these places to risk everything to tell us the truth — that’s a good thing.”
American Colvin died aged 56, alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik, in an alleged government bombardment of a media center in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Homs.
“A Private War,” adapted from a Vanity Fair article following her death, depicts her decades-spanning career and the psychological and physical toll it took on her.
It captures Colvin losing the sight of one eye — leading to her wearing a signature eyepatch — while covering Sri Lanka’s civil war, and interviewing former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi shortly before his death in 2011.
The film also shows her retreating into heavy drinking and battling likely post-traumatic stress disorder in between assignments.
Oscar-nominated Pike said she was attracted to the part by Colvin’s complexity.
“I wanted to put a woman out there on the screen who is admirable but not every quality she has is admirable,” she said.
“There was something about... the fierceness of passion in what she did that I related to.”
Photographer Conroy, who was injured by the bombing that killed Colvin but made a full recovery, said he was eager to advise on the film in part because of Heineman’s background in documentaries.
“His idea of the truth carried through from that — it wasn’t just ‘let’s make this frothy Hollywood film’,” he said at the screening. “The attention to detail is extraordinary.”
Heineman said he spent months researching the story, including watching practically every war film ever made.
He also enlisted locals rather than actors to play the parts of extras in the war zones portrayed.
“Those are real Syrian women shedding real tears and telling real stories,” he explained of scenes showing Colvin interviewing civilians in Syria.
“That was really important to me to try to bring an authenticity to this experience.”
The director said making “City of Ghosts,” a 2017 non-fiction film about a Syrian media activist group in Raqqa, and other conflict-driven documentaries helped him empathize with Colvin.
“I just felt enormous kinship with her, and also her desire to put a human face to poor innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfire of these geo-political conflicts,” he added.