By Andy Pouncey
On February 28, 1974, Volume 1, No. 1 of The Germantown News was published. The byline was “published by, for, and about the citizens of Germantown, Tennessee. The question at that time was “why doesn’t Germantown have a community newspaper?”
The answer was “the cost of printing and distributing it.” The Germantown Civic Club chose to undertake the paper’s sponsorship, and in the first issue they laid out what goes into the making of a newspaper for a community such as Germantown.
To seek subscribers they mailed the newspaper to each residence inside the City limits. The population at that time was approximately 8,000 people. The expense associated with postage cost $140 per issue. The cost of address labels was $30. The cost of paper, offset negatives and other supplies were approximately $25.
The basic cost of publishing such a paper was a minimum of $200 per issue, not including the cost of printing or any labor expenses. Today, the paper runs about $—- per issue and is distributed by subscription and at newsstands.
The first issue was printed on the offset press of the Germantown Baptist Church and thanks were given to Mr. Emmett Wade, Minister of Music and Education, for his assistance.
At $200 per issue, or more than $10,000 per year, it was easy to see that no club or organization could provide the entire expense. Therefore, they asked the citizens of Germantown to share in the expense by subscribing to “The Germantown News” or joining the Germantown Civic Club to help in the publication of the newspaper.
Annual dues for the Civic Club were $3.00 per member and each member would receive a subscription to the paper. Other citizens who wished to subscribe could send a check for $5.00 for a year’s subscription. At first it was published monthly, but soon it became a weekly paper.
While the first issue was sent to every residence, the mailing list would soon include only those who belonged to the Germantown Civic Club or those who had a subscription. I am betting that this plan boosted membership.
In the 60s, I delivered the equivalent of The Germantown News in my hometown in Crittenden County. The Evening Times, was and still is published by today’s publisher of The Germantown News in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Each of my subscribers got five papers a month and it cost $1.00 per month. While I may have had made more money if it had cost more, I always liked that buck a month because I didn’t have to make change. Still, I had some customers who put me off as long as they could. Maybe they didn’t like waiting when I put my paper bag down to play basketball or ride horses with Blann. I put the subscriber’s paper between the screen and the door. If the door was open and they were sitting in the front room, I would just walk in and hand it to the person. That’s small town courtesy.
Volume 1, Number 1 of The Germantown News was purposely planned as a small “sample” of bigger and better things to come. The plans were for it to grow.
The Editorial Committee for the first edition included W.A. “Dub” Nance, Paul Haynes, Joe Christenson, Jewel Hook and Emmett Wade. They put out a request for citizens to serve on a special committee to help publish the paper. Ads (one line/three column wide) or individual sponsorships were accepted at the rate of $3.00 per issue. They weren’t ready for larger ads at that time.
Their paper read “we need volunteers who can help find the news, write the articles, solicit advertising, do art work, and help in the mailing of the paper. Look for Issue No. 2 on March 28, 1974.”