Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heading to the museum

The Grand Rapids Press, now known as mLive as its online edition, ran a story (online) today that the paper is donating its archives to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

This is a wonderful thing - really. It means all the print archives of the paper, dating to 1891, will be stored in a way to preserve the amazing history that a daily newspaper records for its community. The collection reportedly includes 4,000 bound volumes, more than 30 file cabinets of clippings, more than 30 file cabinets of photo archives, as well as other things like directories, microfilm and even a large mural that used to hang in the GR Press building lobby. Of course, that lobby is part of the building that has been sold to Michigan State University for its medical school.

I remember riding the escalator up to the second floor editorial offices when I landed a gig as a correspondent for the GR Press. That was back in early 2005. Over the next few years I wrote enough stories to keep me hopping - and gainfully employed as a part-time reporter getting paid by the story while also being a stay-at-home Dad to my two kids. I enjoyed the giant murals portraying the history of the GR Press, wondering about the city's history as a newcomer.

I can't help but ponder again: What does this mean to the print newspaper industry that a city the size of Grand Rapids no longer has a daily newspaper? But not only that, the newspaper has now donated its archives to the local museum. There clearly is a great deal we can read into this situation, considering the metaphorical connections between the archiving of this once great print institution to the current status of the print newspaper business.

Even more than I prize newspapers, I prize the role of journalism in our society. I hope the newspapers live on in the museum as a way to record our city's history, but also as a way to show future generations the importance of journalism to our community - in print, broadcast and online.