How Has Your Life Changed in the Past 30 Years?

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By Raphaël Thiémard from Belgique (Berlin 1989, Fall der Mauer, Chute du mur) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Where were you in 1989? Were you glued to the television watching the Berlin Wall come down, symbolizing the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the dawning of democracy in Western Europe? Perhaps, instead, you marveled at the picture of the one lone protestor in Tiananmen Square stare down a column of tanks as China decided it would not experience the same fate as its communist rival. Back on the brighter side, evil nemesis Ayatollah Khomeini died, although that didn’t seem to change much. Oh, yeah, and George H. W. Bush was sworn in what many expected to mark the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s “third” term.

Maybe, rather than the geopolitick, you preferred the here and now of the budding world of technology. You probably couldn’t believe this “486” chip just introduced by Intel could make “home” computers (that’s what they were called then) operate so fast. Little did you know you’d need that extra power to best use Microsoft’s new entry into the business software market with its product called “Office.” (And, if you were like most of us, you’d have thought only a fool would believe Excel could supplant Lotus’ 1-2-3.) Less interested in home computers? How about home video games? Nintendo releases something called a “Game Boy,” an 8-bit handheld system featuring interchangeable cartridges that revolutionized the industry.

High tech not your gig? No doubt you spent time waiting in line at the post office to buy a book of 25 cent postage stamps. If, on the other hand, you wanted to spend money on a new car rather than postage stamps, then you probably had an interest in the Lexus, the new luxury line just launched by Toyota. The average price of a new car (not a Lexus) was $15,350 and you fueled it with gas that cost 97 cents a gallon.

In sports news, Al Michaels unknowingly announces the Loma Prieta earthquake live on TV during the World Series. The “Bickering Bills” were born, laying the groundwork of a Hall of Fame team that would soon go to four straight Super Bowls. In the theaters we saw Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Little Mermaid.

But something else happened in 1989 that’s much closer to home, much closer to you. On March 23, 1989, we published the inaugural issue of The Sentinel. Since then, thousands of hometown stories have featured our children, our neighbors, and our towns and villages. What are some of the stories you remember best? Is it the issue containing your high school graduation picture? How about the one featuring your grandchild’s big achievement? Or the one announcing your business opening?

Isn’t it great seeing stories about you, your family, and your friends and neighbors? The Sentinel covers hometown stories neglected by the bigger media. More important, we have room to highlight the happy news, the news we, as a community, delight the most in reading. Whereas the only time the metropolitan news reports show interest in us is when there’s a salacious or controversial story. Those kinds of stories don’t make our community look good. Those are the types of stories that vilify us, our neighbors, and our community. Those are the stories that invite us to tear down each other.

We’ve heard from you. We embrace what you embrace. We do this not to satisfy some beancounter in some far away city, but because we are you.

You’ve told us you want stories that celebrate ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. You’ve told us you want articles that promote our communities in a consistent and regular fashion, sort of like an ongoing and ever-changing Chamber of Commerce billboard. You’ve told us you want stories about the rich history of our region, a history we can all be proud of.

This doesn’t mean you want us to avoid the controversial, hide the provocative, or bury the bad news. It just means, whenever possible, you want us to lead with news that will inspire, about people and events we admire, in a way that cause us to aspire.

Yes, we all know the big city editor’s adage “If it bleeds, it leads!” We know gossip, hearsay, and innuendo sells more papers. But you want to know what else sells more papers? Good news stories about you, your kids, and the people you know. We see it every week in newsstand sales. We see it in the new subscriptions we’re constantly getting. We see it in all the back issues people are buying.

Good news sell. Great news sells the entire run.

Much has changed in the last 30 years. People, technology, and pop culture fads have come and gone. What remains is you. Your hearts and your desires. Your feeling of pride, and your hope of making a meaningful and lasting contribution to your community.

And we’re here to let the whole world know about it. Forever. In print. The first take on history. The chronicle – the scrapbook – of our community.

Thank you for your loyal confidence in yourselves, your community, and your hometown newspaper.

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