The Meade County Messenger has stood in the heart of this county like an old oak tree since 1882. It is, by far, the county’s oldest business. It is an institution that has laughed, cried, and celebrated with every setback or accomplishment Meade Countians have experienced for well over 100 years. For better or worse, through sickness and health, the Messenger has and always will stand hand in hand with Meade Countians, till death do us part.
This institution has weathered countless storms over the years, even when it was located in the path of the 1974 tornado that ripped this county to its core. This grand ol’ oak has met some challenges over the last few years, though, that has whittled its limbs down to the point that there isn’t much canopy left – mainly just the trunk. Trying to compete with social media in a digital age has wrecked the newsprint industry. Why support a paper when you can go online and read the same story that was swiped from news agencies for free? The pandemic and ensuing shutdowns wrecked our advertising lifeline to the point the owner of this paper hasn’t taken a cent from the business in over two years. The final straw has been the fallout from us doing our job as your watchdog. We hear from countless readers how much you appreciate the fact that we hold leaders accountable and fearlessly defend the citizens of this county and their tax dollars. Doing the right thing and upholding that mandate by the common men and women of this county has come at one heck of a price.
After supporting everything the Meade County Chamber of Commerce has done since its inception, we sided with the people and dared to say we didn’t agree with the tax dollars they were wanting to spend on a new facility. For standing against them ONE time, we have been blackballed from our membership in that organization. We were removed from their email notification list, and we were not offered the opportunity to re-up our membership during their yearly renewal window. Several large businesses that have always supported us have pulled their advertising because the forum page does not paint images of their friends in politics while wearing rose-colored glasses (They sure still send us bills for our personal policies and accounts with them, though).
When people find out I write for the paper, they often ask, “What do you write about?” I always laugh and say, “A better question to ask me would be, ‘Chad, what don’t you write about?’” Within 36 hours last weekend, I went from Friday night lights, covering the MC football team who were looking for a season-opening win in Owensboro to Sunday morning lanterns, setting on the edge of a vertical shaft with a team of spelunkers who were looking to make a possible record-breaking vertical descent into a cave at an undisclosed location somewhere in the tri-county area.
I may have a reputation with some, as a guy who stirs excrement with a boat oar in both hands all day, and that’s OK. Those who know me will tell you that I’ve never met a stranger. I always have, and always will, try to be a man of the people. So, I will never apologize for defending the people of my beloved county whether I’ve known them for 40 years or 40 seconds. What many don’t realize is the fact that I usually only spend a few hours a week, at best, writing those pointed editorials that I’m either famous or infamous for, defending the people of this county. The rest of the time, I’m out trying to meet Meade Countians wherever they are at in life and tell their story. Unfortunately, there is never enough time to do that as well as I would like to.
I say all this because if you like having me do everything from crawling in a hole on a Sunday morning and spending five hours on site to driving 3 hours round trip to cover your child play ball, driving an hour to cover a livestock show, having a guy that you call at 8, 9, or 10 o’clock at night to ask to investigate what the heck is causing your hardship, setting in the sheriff’s office/government meetings/school board office/etc. for hours on end to inform you of what is going on in our county, digging through old archives to tell our history, and everything else that I, along with my colleagues, try to do, then the community has to support us better.
I’ve sacrificed my time, energy, family, reputation and sanity to support you, Meade County. And I try to do a better job each and every day than I did the day before. I’ve had articles get shared all the way to Japan, Thailand and Africa; I often make posts that reach 20,000 to 30,000 plus individuals on the Messenger’s FB page; and we send papers out to mailboxes that reach into the thousands. So, I’m not just asking you to spend your hard-earned money and advertise your business with us because the people of this community need and deserve a strong paper. I’m not just asking you to advertise because I deserve a living wage as opposed to being a partial volunteer in my quest to tell Meade County’s story. I’m asking you to advertise because I can get your name out there with our platform in a way that never fades away or requires someone to tune into a specific channel or page, at a specific time, or else, that ad is no better than the philosophical question of, “If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
I may not always say what you want to hear, but I always try to say what I think you need to hear. I never expect you to take my opinion as scripture, but I always expect to challenge the way you think and then let YOU decide what is or isn’t right. And I will always stand in a downpour for you to cover your story, whether it was Sunday’s caving expedition or the farm field day, high school graduation, or the Regional Championship team’s return to Meade County during basketball season when I almost needed an ark to film from.
All I’m asking for is a minuscule fraction of the support you give the fast-food industry. All I’m asking for is the silent majority that privately supports us all day every day through letters, emails, phone calls or word of mouth to stand behind us the way we try our best to stand behind you.
Otherwise, you are closer than you will ever realize to having a news desert where the only information you will have about Meade County is FB rumors and Louisville channels coming down for clickbait stories like cat people in the schools or mullet mayhem on a sports team.
I love you all, even those I’m critical of at times (it’s never been personal). If you cut me open, I bleed Meade County green, and I can’t thank those that support me enough for allowing me to do what I do for this long. I love doing what I do, no matter how bad it hurts sometimes. As much as I hate asking for help, it appears that, if something doesn’t soon give, we very well may be traveling down a road together that is quickly becoming too narrow for the Messenger to fit.
We’ve fought for you Meade County for over 100 years, and we would love to do it for another 100 years. Will you let your grand ol’ oak wither and die over a couple of articles you didn’t agree with, or will you come to our aid in this time of need, like we have so many times for you, Meade County?