County Connections: Gallatin County News among a shrinking number of locally owned newspapers

03/28/2017 07:15 PM

WARSAW — For Charles and Denny Warnick, Gallatin County provided a prime spot at the right price to get their start in the publishing world.

The Gallatin County News has been in the Warnick family since the couple bought the weekly newspaper for $48,000 in 1978.

“It’s written in blood on my heart,” Denny said during a recent interview at the newspaper’s office, which is attached to her home in Warsaw.

Since then, and despite a pitch from Shelbyville-based Landmark Community Newspapers, the newspaper has remained in local hands as larger media chains continue to grow.

The newspaper’s editor, Kelley Warnick, has been there since the purchase, starting out as a photographer and working his way up the ladder.

His brother Clay works as the advertising director, and both have a hand in covering the happenings of their community. Denny offers her views on a variety of subjects, such as last year’s presidential race, in the occasional editorial.

“The small weekly papers are doing well, and we’re one of those, and we’re also in a good position with advertising,” Clay said. “It’s strange. Because we have a small community, we’ve had to go to other areas to find advertising, so we sell a lot of ads in Carrollton and across the river in Switzerland County, Indiana.

“We have a monthly paper called The River Times that is delivered there both to Switzerland County and Carrollton, and because of that when people get angry with us, local people because of what my brother or my mother have written, they can’t pull out their advertising and put terrible pressure on us. It’s still kind of difficult at the grocery store sometimes when you see people you’re writing about.”

The Gallatin County News has survived where other papers haven’t.

At one time, Kelley says two Cincinnati newspapers covered Gallatin County extensively.

But one of those papers, The Cincinnati Post, no longer exists and the other, The Cincinnati Enquirer, doesn’t come to town nearly as often.

“If you want to learn who won the local football game Friday night, you can find it on our website or our newspaper,” Kelley said.

Although Gallatin County has the trappings of a proverbial sleepy little community, sometimes big news breaks.

Denny recalled the local uproar caused by a proposed expansion in Glencoe by Queen City Barrel, a Cincinnati-based barrel recycler, in the 1990s.

“All the natives came out against that and marched,” she said. “It was very thrilling.”

When the prospect of a new prison opening in Gallatin County emerged, residents had a similar reaction.

“We did not take an editorial stand, but we did print what other people said about it, the protests that rose,” Clay said.

“And what other people said from other communities that had prisons,” Kelley added.

“Yeah,” Clay said, laughing. “About guys running over the hedges and stuff like that, and that prison did not come, and we think we were an integral part in that.”

Even covering more local stories can sometimes pose difficulties. In small communities, reporters typically know the victims of tragedy, Kelley said.

“They’re your neighbors,” he said. “You see them in the grocery store, so it can be a very emotional job at times.”

The brothers credit their successful working relationship to the boundaries they’ve implemented in their jobs.

Simply liking each other also doesn’t hurt.

“We’re good-looking bald guys who like each other,” Clay said.

In a time when the president of the United States lambasts the “fake news” media, the Warnicks say that has trickled down to Gallatin County.

“We’ve been here a long time, and I think people trust us when we put a news story out,” Kelley said. “They know us, and we know them, and there’s no reason for us to bend any facts.”


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