ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
There’s another newspaper in town-the Wilson Street Weekly, now in its fourth week of publication.
Attacks on parakeets by unknown predators, summer camp at Tabor College and a marathon runner who lives on Wilson Street have made front-page news.
“If we hear about something that has happened or somebody we know of that’s involved in something that’s good for the newspaper, we’ll go and interview and find out the facts,” said 10-year-old David Loewen, who is responsible for reporting news and drawing comics for the paper.
The Wilson Street Weekly, a free newspaper with a circulation of 24, is distributed to residents living on the 100 block of South Wilson Street. Papers also are delivered to a few relatives, including grandparents and cousins.
David and sports editor Amanda Faber, 11, head the paper’s editorial staff, aided by assistant sports editor Becky Faber, 8, and weather reporter Abby Humber, 10.
Younger siblings Tena Loewen, 6, Harry Faber, 6, and Jacob Humber, 5, help by delivering the Wilson Street Weekly to their neighbors.
The staff’s parents, Dave and Joanne Loewen, Dave and Connie Faber and Steve and Mary K. Humber, lend their support when needed.
“They came upon this idea one time several weeks ago when they wanted something to do,” Joanne Loewen said. “They were just sitting out here talking and that’s when they came up with it. Then they all scattered.
“Soon they had it all together, and we had to help.”
Last week, five of the newspaper staff agreed to meet around the Loewens’ table at 116 S. Wilson St. and talk about their summer endeavor.
The entrepreneurial venture took off after David posed the idea of putting together a neighborhood paper.
“On the back of a book, I saw that some kids had started a newspaper and I thought that would be a fun thing to do,” he said. “And I talked to everybody else, and they agreed.”
The writers work on their assignments in their homes and then bring the copy to David, who puts the pages together with the help of his dad.
“Sometimes we go and check on each other and see how they are doing,” David said.
One of the toughest things is knowing what to write about, Amanda said.
“Especially at the beginning of the week,” David said. “It’s kind of hectic then.”
Asked how they determine what news to cover, Amanda said, “We decide what stories we want to do, since Becky and I both do them, then we write them, and then I check Becky’s and then we gave them to David.”
One staff goal is to cover everyone who lives on Wilson Street at least once. While their first priority for news has focused on children, but the staff tries to write about adults, too.
In fact, the paper recently reported that Wilson Street resident Randy Wiens ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April.
“That’s where I made a mistake,” David said. “I messed up on my notes and wrote down that he ran the marathon in one hour, 15 minutes and 30 seconds, but he actually ran it in four hours.”
The paper ran the correction in its Fourth of July issue, which also carried a front-page interview with State Representative Don Dahl, another Wilson Street resident.
For David, drawing the weekly cartoon strip, “Waffles,” is a highlight. “I’ve heard some good advice from one guy who writes comics,” he said. “Just think funny.”
That’s the advice he tries to follow.
The Wilson Street Weekly also has carried display ads for pet parakeets, a garage sale notice and a request for a used couch.
Cost for advertising is reasonable and affordable. Quarter-page ads run for 25 cents, half-page ads for 50 cents and $1 for full-page ads.
“We take advertisements from everybody,” David said.
Putting out the newspaper has provided the staff with plenty of learning experiences.
“You’ve got to get everything in on time. Deadlines have to be met,” the 10-year-old editor said.
“One time I stayed up until I don’t know when-it seemed like 11 o’clock-working on it because I was a little late.”
Amanda said: “I like to edit people’s things. When proofreading or editing you have to do it carefully because if you take out one word like ‘almost’ and change it to ‘all,’ it totally changes the meaning.”
David added, “Like one time we wrote ‘Bim’ instead of ‘Jim.'”
But the staff caught the error before the paper went to press.
Amanda said she works to keep her opinion out of her articles.
“The hardest thing is, unless it’s an editorial, you can’t write what you think,” she said.
Becky Faber said she sometimes finds it hard to figure out the beginning and the ending for her articles.
But she has discovered a reporter can come up multiple story ideas about the same topic.
“If someone wants to write about something you want to write about, you could make more than one story about it,” Becky said.
“Like Amanda and I both wanted to do swim team. I wrote about the swim team and she wrote about the swim meet.”
In fact, the Wilson Street Weekly’s sports department scooped the Hillsboro Free Press and the Star Journal about the June 23 swim meet.
Based on the results turned in, both Hillsboro papers reported that the city’s swim team won the meet.
“We really didn’t win,” Becky said. “We actually lost by two points.”
So the neighborhood paper reported the recount, which placed Marion first, Hillsboro second and Herington third.
Learning to work together is one of the added bonuses about putting out the paper.
“I like doing it with my friends,” said Harry Faber, who helps distribute the papers.
Tena Loewen, who also makes deliveries, said she’s gotten to know people. “It brings the street together,” she said.
Her older brother agrees.
“When you think about it, you get to know people and find out a whole lot of things you didn’t know about,” David said.
The children haven’t been the only ones to benefit from their interactions with others in the neighborhood.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone (in the neighborhood) talking with each other,” said Dave Loewen, David’s and Tena’s father.
The young staff intends to keep the paper going at least through the summer months.
“We might not do it once a week during the school year,” Amanda said.
But as far as paper’s longevity goes, David said time will tell.
“We’re going to do it until the gas runs out.”