BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — 130 Years of weekly newspapers paint a detailed portrait of Morgan County that wouldn’t exist otherwise — those are words from
Kate Shunney, Editor of The Morgan Messenger, on the weekly newspaper’s 130th anniversary this month:
Shunney has been with The Morgan Messenger for 23 years. In a recent op-ed, she talked about the newspaper’s history.
“I wonder if S.S. Buzzerd and Lewis Frey, back in 1893, talked about how long their new newspaper for Morgan County might last. Having worked with lots of entrepreneurs over the years, I doubt it. Those guys were risk-takers and had a vision, but they knew their success depended on factors beyond themselves. Their earliest editions say the paper would only be a success with staunch support from friends and associates. They were offering something useful that could last, if the people decided to back it and keep it going. Here we are, 130 years later, still printing The Morgan Messenger each week.”
“Keeping an independent local newspaper alive and printing may seem like a kind of quaint country tradition. It is, in fact, a ferocious commitment to democracy and the free exchange of ideas – a promise to uphold the power of regular people,” she says.
She talked about the scope of the newspaper’s work.
The late John Douglas, who worked for The Morgan Messenger for 38 years, hired her as a young part-time reporter, she says. “John was a great believer in the power of people to transform their communities. He saw local newspapers – THIS local newspaper – as a meeting place for people and their ideas. He liked a good fight and felt like it was a sign that people cared about their county.”
The latest edition of The Morgan Messenger is on newstands now.
You can hear our full interview with Kate Shunney here.