Friday, June 06, 2008

Notes From My Knapsack 6-8-08
Jeff Gill

Six and a half years ago, about 340 weekly columns before this one alongside a smattering of cover stories and stray features, I got a chance to write for the Booster.

Maybe it was “The Community Booster” then, or we should say “Booster Snapshots” now, or you may just say “that free weekly thing the Advocate folks put out,” but it’s part of the long, proud history of print journalism in Licking County.

The Advocate is the oldest continuously operating business in Licking County, starting in 1820. They get the nod for printing under the same name, even as owners and editors have changed (kind of like an inn, come to think of it, but while The Buxton Inn’s building goes back straight to 1812, they’ve had a few different names through the centuries).

Benjamin Briggs was a young man in an unprepossessing town when he printed the first issues in 1820; the Advocate has seen many competitors over the years come and go, buying and being bought by some of those business concerns.

The Newspaper Network of Central Ohio is part of the larger Gannett Corporation, of which “USA Today” is our cousin. They are diversifying out into various print and online media formats, which means new opportunities for some . . .

. . . and endings for others. This is, I’m told, the last “Booster” (however you dress up the name, “Booster” has been good enough for most purposes). You’ll still see “The Advertiser” showing up in bags and bunches hither and yon, as our free weekly for a now multi-county area, with news highlights from our “Advocate” colleagues.

“The Granville Sentinel” was a competitor through the 1970’s and 80’s with “The Granville Booster,” both weeklies in the shadow of the legendary “Granville Times” and all the way back to Sereno Wright’s “The Wanderer” that rose up to dispute Newark’s upstart newspaper in 1822. (Sereno was a printer from Vermont who had put out a “Weekly Wanderer” back East from 1801 to 1811, so the printer’s ink runs deep in Licking County veins, back to the auld sod.)

I’m delighted to say that “Notes From My Knapsack” will have some kind of regular place in the pages of the “Sentinel,” where the Op-Ed pages host a distinguished company of columnists, like Bill Nichols and Scottie Cochrane’s husband, plus a guy who’s always right.

This, I cannot claim.

So the torrent of verbiage will be diverted, but not stilled. Many of you have been kind enough to share your corrections, dissentions, and disputations with me by e-mail and in person on sidewalks and buffet lines all over Licking County, and I truly have been enriched by those interactions. My best hope is that between the “Sentinel” and my weekly “Faith Works” column in the Saturday Advocate, and perhaps even preaching or telling a story in your neck of the woods, we’ll all stay in touch.

Friends, it has been a pleasure.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; you can still tell him a story at, and who knows where it will come out, but it’s all grist for the mill, which still turns.

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