The Winchester Sun has a new edi­tor — again. I wish him the best, but am reluc­tant to get too attached. His name is Miles Layton. And from what he’s writ­ten so far, he sounds like an expe­ri­enced jour­nal­ist eager to inte­grate into the com­mu­ni­ty. I hope he does.

I love The Winchester Sun. Always have, always will. But the rela­tion­ship is… complicated.

I grew up read­ing The Sun, as did every­one else I knew in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Lexington papers (there were two then, the morn­ing Herald and the after­noon Leader) were also sta­ples in our house, but only The Sun kept its fin­ger con­sis­tent­ly on Clark County’s col­lec­tive pulse.

Around 1980, not only did I read The Sun, I began writ­ing for it. Fresh out of jour­nal­ism school, I was hired as a cub reporter by then-edi­tor Bill Blakeman, one of Clark County’s most ardent cit­i­zens. I have nev­er for­got­ten him call­ing me “a crack­er­jack reporter” — high praise for an ide­al­is­tic young journalist.

The Tatman fam­i­ly of Indiana pub­lished The Sun then, but didn’t seem very involved in our day-to-day oper­a­tions. I nev­er saw or met any of them. Winchester’s own Betty Berryman was the gen­er­al man­ag­er. We had a full edi­to­r­i­al staff: three or four full-time reporters, a cou­ple of sports­writ­ers, a news/copy edi­tor, and the inde­fati­ga­ble James Mann tak­ing pic­tures, which he devel­oped and print­ed him­self — how times have changed! We even had a “soci­ety” edi­tor, the gra­cious and impec­ca­ble Elizabeth Hunt.

My employ­ment with The Sun was brief but mem­o­rable. It start­ed with an intern­ship dur­ing my senior year at the University of Kentucky. At the time, Rolling Stone mag­a­zine was my bible, Hunter S. Thompson, my god. Remember gonzo journalism?

When I grad­u­at­ed in May of 1980, Jann Wenner wasn’t hir­ing, but Bill Blakeman was. My first day on the job, I sat down at my dent­ed met­al desk and sur­veyed the tools with which I would ply my new trade: an elec­tric type­writer, a stack of paper and a glue­pot, scis­sors with impos­si­bly long blades, a tele­phone. The Associated Press wire machine clacked nois­i­ly in an enclosed space near­by, telegraph­ing break­ing news from around the globe.

For a time, my new­bie duties includ­ed arriv­ing at 6 a.m. in the dark and desert­ed news­room to edit the overnight wire sto­ries so we could print them in that day’s edi­tion. Local news was gath­ered in per­son and via tele­phone, typed out on paper that we lit­er­al­ly cut and past­ed togeth­er before hand­ing over to type­set­ters — light­ning-fast key­boardists who read­ied the copy for the page lay­out folks sta­tioned just a few steps away. Once the pages were com­posed, they were turned over to the print­ing press crew, which worked its dark mag­ic in the bow­els of the building. 

Yelling “Stop the press­es!” was a real thing back then.

But that was only half of the oper­a­tion. While we edi­to­r­i­al types were har­vest­ing and pack­ag­ing news, an ener­getic adver­tis­ing depart­ment full of tal­ent­ed and per­sua­sive per­son­nel scoured the region sell­ing the ads that kept our bread but­tered on both sides. Subscription sales were robust — every­one sub­scribed to The Sun.

Together, we func­tioned like a well-oiled machine, a team, a fam­i­ly, almost. And like any fam­i­ly try­ing to thrive under the same roof, there were good days and bad days. But the news nev­er stopped, and nei­ther did we.

Or nei­ther did THEY, I should say, because I did stop. A young and rest­less 22-year-old, I left The Sun short­ly after our type­writ­ers gave way to the clunky com­put­ers that rev­o­lu­tion­ized the indus­try. I couldn’t prac­tice gonzo jour­nal­ism there any­way, so why not go to beau­ty col­lege? (Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time, OK?)

Of course, doing hair didn’t cut it for me either, so I spent the next decade or so drift­ing in and out of var­i­ous writ­ing gigs, all the while keep­ing tabs on my beloved home­town newspaper.

Over the next 30 years, wher­ev­er I lived, I read The Winchester Sun — more close­ly dur­ing some peri­ods than oth­ers. You nev­er for­get your first love, after all. At times I was delight­ed; at times, dis­ap­point­ed. It pained me to see good peo­ple leave, events go unre­port­ed, typo­graph­i­cal errors com­mit­ted, let­ters to the edi­tor ignored. 

But it nev­er occurred to me to stop read­ing. It’s our only local news­pa­per, after all.

Some things nev­er change. But most do, and The Sun is one of them. For a full run­down on its evo­lu­tion up to late 2018, check out the link below. The last cou­ple of years have brought con­cern­ing set­backs: There are just two print edi­tions a week now, and the edi­to­r­i­al staff has turned over again. At least there’s an e‑edition for those who don’t mind read­ing on a screen.

And now we have a new edi­tor. So please, how­ev­er you feel about The Sun these days, join me in wel­com­ing Mr. Layton to town. He has a tough job ahead of him. The revolv­ing door at The Sun seems to spin faster every day, and while it appears unlike­ly we’ll ever have a dai­ly local news­pa­per again, let’s sup­port ours in what­ev­er form it takes.

Throughout our coun­try, small-town news­pa­pers are col­laps­ing. Let’s not let that hap­pen here. Read The Winchester Sun. Subscribe to it. Advertise in it.

Mr. Layton is ask­ing for our sup­port. Let’s give it to him.

Link to The Winchester Sun 140th anniver­sary sec­tion pub­lished September 28, 2018

Note: Jann Wenner is the co-founder of Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, the stage on which lit­er­ary lumi­nar­ies Hunter S. Thompson, Cameron Crowe, Ben Fong-Torres, Patti Smith, and P.J. O’Rourke — as well as icon­ic por­trait pho­tog­ra­ph­er Annie Leibovitz — made their first indeli­ble marks on American culture.

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    Adra Fisher grew up in Winchester, moved away in her ear­ly 20s and returned a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry lat­er. She enjoys all types of art and encour­ag­ing oth­ers to live creatively.