Test of time

By John Dilmore

It’s no small feat for a business or other local institution to survive over a long period of time. People’s tastes and needs, both real and perceived, are always changing. Navigating an economy, in most places at least, can feel like a rollercoaster ride at times. Significant as well is the fact that many industries and endeavors are heavily impacted by changing technologies. 
I’m always a little amazed when considering businesses and institutions that have stood the test of time. A few years of the requisite ups and downs are enough for many. To survive over decades, even generations, speaks to adaptability, endurance certainly, and no small measure of bravery. It’s tough out there. 
But at the end of the day, the businesses and institutions that become cornerstones provide people with something they need or want, year after year, regardless of any current trend.
In this edition of the Citizens Journal, we’ve published information on a number of local businesses, many of which have been part of these communities for long periods of time. The things they’ve offered that have kept them relevant and successful are as varied as the businesses themselves. 
Hats off to them – and, to those just starting out on their journeys. As the years go by, it’s their stories we’ll tell.
It’s meaningful to me to be in a position to manage two of the county’s longest-standing institutions, the Citizens Journal, which has published for 138 years, and the Cass County Sun, which has been in business even longer, 141 years. I wouldn’t attempt to analyze or explain the longevity of many other businesses or local institutions – truth be told, I don’t know well enough how they do what they do. But as someone who’s spent his career in newspapers, I’ve given some thought to the things that make them such enduring parts of the communities they serve.
The places people take pride in and call home, their local communities, need people to tell their stories, record their history. People need and want to know the news of the day – which can run the gamut from coverage of local government affairs to the scores from Friday night’s ballgames. Communities often need an advocate with a legitimate interest in the health and wellbeing not just of the place, but of individual citizens. Communities sometimes need a voice, and sometimes a watchdog. They need a local paper that doesn’t just speak to them, but listens as well.
At the end of the day, knowing those things without also honoring them would amount to a pointless analytical exercise. But like most people who dedicate their careers to this work, I’m a believer in the things that make papers like the Citizens Journal and the Sun important to the people they serve. If you’re reading this, you’re very likely one of those people – which means these papers are here for you.

John Dilmore is Editor and Publisher of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Cass County Sun. He can be reached at john@casscountynow.com.

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