Rockwell Files: Salute to Local Newspapers — Long May They Run

During a bustling summer day at a county paper, Norman Rockwell carries a sketchbook into the office.

Journalism 101: "It's the warm and simple things that make the news people hunger for most." (Norman Rockwell / © SEPS)

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In 1946, Norman Rockwell paid tribute to a great American institution: the country newspaper.

His painting, which appeared in the May 25 issue, captured life in the office of the Monroe County Appeal of Paris, Missouri. It was accompanied by drawings of 76-year-old editor Jack Blanton with his staff of five, producing the weekly paper for its 3,000 subscribers. The photograph over the editor’s desk is of B.F. Blanton, his father, who founded the paper. To the right is a Gold Star flag that commemorates Jack’s grandson, who would have succeeded as editor if he had survived World War II. (And to the far right is the artist himself entering the editorial office.)

Illustration of Norman Rockwell walking into the office of the Monroe County Appeal
(Norman Rockwell / © SEPS)

In 1950, Jack explained the secret of the paper’s survival to TIME magazine, “You run a Tom, Dick, and Harry paper, like I have for 60 years, and you begin to see it’s the warm and simple things that make the news people hunger for the most.”

The Monroe County Appeal, at 154 years old, is still publishing today. A recent drop in ad revenues caused by the pandemic has led the paper to publish jointly with the Ralls County Herald-Enterprise, which is 156 years old. Office Manager Janice Carman, who started work at the Appeal 20 years after the Rockwell feature, is confident the joint venture will only be temporary.

The Post is proud to salute these veteran publications, which are keeping the flame of independent journalism burning.

This article is featured in the September/October 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Journalism 101: “It’s the warm and simple things that make the news people hunger for most.” (Norman Rockwell / © SEPS)

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