Shelby County Reporter celebrates 170 years
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA – A lot has changed since 1843, and the Shelby County Reporter has been there to see it all.
In the newspaper industry, the last 17 decades have seen major changes, including the invention of computers, the internet and other devices that simplified news gathering, printing and distribution.
One thing that hasn’t changed, according to current publisher Tim Prince, is the paper’s mission to provide quality local news to its readers.
“Our job, in its essence, is to serve our community by telling compelling stories in compelling ways. Those of us who consider ourselves temporary stewards of the community’s newspaper take that job very seriously.”
Originally named the Alabama Reporter, the newspaper was first published in 1843 in Talladega County before moving to Columbiana in 1923.
Columbiana native and attorney Butch Ellis remembers, as a kid, watching the staff set type in the 1940s, as well as waiting to get the paper each week. In those days, calling from Columbiana to Calera, Alabaster and Chelsea was long-distance, and the only news source was the Reporter, Ellis said.
“The only way we found out what was happening in the community was through the Reporter,” he said. “You could get the Birmingham News, but it had nothing to do with Shelby County. (The Reporter) has been a major influence in our community life and the whole county ever since I was just a child. It’s always been there.”
Marcia Sears purchased the newspaper in 1967 with a focus on news directly related to Shelby County that is still reflected on the pages of the newspaper today. While major national problems were going on, you never knew it by looking at the paper, Sears said.
“(Readers) could get that (news) elsewhere,” she said.
“The responsibility of weekly newspapers is really serious in small communities. It’s very important to have a local paper,” Sears added.
In recent years, the Reporter has expanded numerous times, with the launch of the Alabaster Reporter, Pelham Reporter, Shelby Living Magazine, Hoover’s Magazine and related digital platforms ranging from websites and social media to daily news emails in an effort to expand its ability to serve readers and advertisers alike.
The Reporter, now owned by Boone Newspapers Inc., a family-owned company based in Tuscaloosa and Tim Prince of Shelby County, has been recognized in the Alabama Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest as the state’s best large community newspaper for seven consecutive years.
“The measure of a newspaper is not simply how many you print or the awards received, but rather does it make a difference in the community it serves,” Prince said. “A good newspaper is more than just a recorder of the news or a reflection of the community; in many respects it represents the soul and basic fabric of a community. Luther Fowler, Marcia Sears and others who have had the opportunity to lead this newspaper set the standard of serving Shelby County for us long ago. We are humbled and honored by that challenge.”
Come celebrate our anniversary with us!
WHAT: Shelby County Reporter 170th Anniversary Celebration
WHERE: Shelby County Museum and Archives (the old courthouse)
WHEN: Nov. 3 from 2-3 p.m.