DuBois: Making Sure That Local Papers Don’t Become Dinosaurs

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 11, 2011

By Larry Atkins

Don’t tell Erin DuBois, a graduate student in Arcadia’s English program, that newspapers are dying. DuBois, the Associate Editor of the Souderton Independent and Perkasie News Herald, chose to work for a local newspaper even though many people are skeptical about the future of the industry.

“My choice to go into print journalism at this time may seem a bit like the orchestra on the Titanic playing as the ship goes down, but when the job opportunity became available last May, there was really no doubt in my mind that I should take it,” says DuBois. “I love to write and need to write, and so I came to the place within myself of deciding that I would rather go down with everyone in a blaze of glory than sit safely on the sidelines.”

DuBois is still optimistic about the future of small, local newspapers despite decreasing circulation figures for major papers nationwide.

“Despite my Titanic comparison, I really am optimistic about the future of small, local papers. I think the advent of hyper-local news websites, like Patch, proves that people have a thirst for local news. But I think we can do it better. We’ve been in the community for over 100 years and our reporters are supported by an entire editorial staff. And as a weekly paper, we have the luxury of time to dig deeper into stories than reporters at daily papers can do. Our challenge is to make sure that we remain creative and adaptable so that we don’t become a dinosaur, and to make sure that we are meeting the needs of both our print and web readers, since they tend to be very different crowds.”

As a reporter and editor, DuBois does layout and copyediting, pitches story ideas, covers municipal meetings, and writes feature articles and profiles. She says that she loves writing and interacting with members of the local community.

“I love both the relational part of journalism and the writing aspect. There are new, interesting people to meet every day, and part of the challenge is to craft the right questions that allow you to see life through their eyes, but also to allow serendipity to take over sometimes so that you can learn things you never would have thought to ask. Working for a small, community paper also gives me the sense of truly being a part of the community, in a sense writing the community’s story, especially since many residents here are very dedicated to the community’s well-being and are eager to dialogue on our website about the issues. And then of course, there is the delight of getting to write stories every day, and even the adrenaline rush of working to get the story done on deadline.”

DuBois has enjoyed her time at Arcadia, and has been successful in her studies, receiving the Ellington Beavers Intellectual Inquiry Award.

“My years at Arcadia have been among the happiest of my life. I have always devoured books, so to be able to devote myself to studying literature with other likeminded people has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the support I’ve received from all of my professors as well. Dr. Chauhan has been especially challenging and encouraging to me. His classes are no joke but they are well worth the extra effort!”

Larry Atkins teaches Journalism at Arcadia.