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Front Page » April 15, 2003 » Opinion » Small papers are a part of the fabric of communities
Published 4,207 days ago

Small papers are a part of the fabric of communities


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

Everytime I go to the Salt Lake valley I am strongly reminded as to why I moved here over 12 years ago.

Reasons that I see are that the traffic is bad, there are way too many people for me and I certainly don't like the bad air days they have more and more frequently.

Those are all good reasons to be glad I am here. But what really gets to me is the loss of community where I grew up.

Murray, where I lived from the time I was born until I was 21 and then moved back for a few years in the early 1980's, used to be it's own place; a community on it's own. It was a kind of island in the middle of the valley.

But that has all changed. Sure, there are actually more political boundaries as far as towns go in the valley than there ever were and Murray still holds out as one of the oldest. Many cities have been formed the past few years, carved out of the formerly populous Salt Lake County. But that's all they are; political boundaries, not community boundaries.

Murray is still unique in of itself. Besides it's own city council and mayor it still has it's own power system, it's own police and fire departments (unlike most of the other "towns" that "contract" with the county for services) and most uniquely it's own school district, a small entity wedged between the two largest school districts in the state (Jordan and Granite). But even with this, as hard as the town has tried, it is still just a part of Salt Lake and becomes more so every day.

There are a lot of things that have contributed to this demise of the small town I once knew. One is big business has moved in. Conglomerate car lots line State Street where once small stores stood. The old downtown is deteriorating and the major business part of town has shifted south. The J.C. Penney where my mother once bought my school clothes has long since closed and has been replaced with an antique dealer. Similar things have happened to the old Grand Central Store and most of the local businesses that once stood in the middle of my universe.

But probably the biggest demise of the community came when the Murray Eagle, the town newspaper basically came to an end as we knew it in the early 1970's. It became the Green Sheet, which served other communities in the area as well, and later was bought out and has changed titles several times with each incarnation moving it farther and farther from the real meaning of the Murray community. Now it is the Eagle again, but while it claims a 17,000 paper distribution per week, I personally know no one that subscribes to it that lives in Murray, and I still know a lot of citizens there. It seems many people pulled away because they felt the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News became more relevant for them. In the newspaper business it hard to get people to come back once they are lost.

It seems a common theme in the America of today. The box stores, the super car dealers, the giant malls and the gigantic news outlets. I worry that in many places our country has become so grand that the "little" news, the common man's story is getting lost in the blare of CNN, FOX and USA Today.

The fabric of the community here is a treasure we all need to have and hold.. That piece of cloth is made up of many factors, all of which hold this place we call Carbon county together. We need jobs and growth, but we must also must be careful of the proverbial problem of what may result if we get what we wish for.


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April 15, 2003
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