Veteran community journalist and photographer Peter Crabtree went coast to coast, stopping in towns and small cities along the way to take photos of the local newspaper office. The project was inspired by a column by the late David Carr, media reporter for the New York Times, about the importance of family-owned, local newspapers and good, old-fashioned beat reporting.
We ran a “Viewfinder” interview with Peter earlier this month. His project yielded so many good shots of small-town newsrooms that we couldn’t include all of them in that feature. So, for the next few weeks, we’ll publish a few more of Peter’s photographs one at a time.
Peter took this week’s photo in Alliance, Nebraska, at the Alliance Times Herald. This is one of our favorite photographs in the series. At first glance, the office appears empty. But look around and you’ll see that all the big tools of newspaper journalism are there within arms’ reach of the writer: a phone, computer, camera, reporter’s notebooks, a reference book or two (maybe Google doesn’t know everything) and some phone numbers tacked to the wall.
Here’s what Peter remembers about shooting the photograph:
I remember walking in off the street on a sunny day and being escorted to what felt like a subterranean newsroom. It was somewhat bare, but functional. You had the sense that the necessary tools were present to get the job done.
Alliance is a town of 8,500 residents in northwest Nebraska. It’s the county seat of Box Butte County and is home to about three quarters of the county’s population. The county has 4,700 households, and the newspaper’s circulation is 3,125, according to Cision, a national service that maintains contact information on journalists and outlets.
Alliance has a broad-streeted downtown with angled parking surrounded by residential areas laid out on a tidy Midwestern grid pattern. On the outskirts is another commercial and business district and a rail yard. The city gives way quickly to surrounding agricultural land. There’s a surprise a few miles north of town: “Carhenge.” The sculpture is a replica of Stonehenge fashioned from automobiles, somewhat resembling a Celtic “Cadillac Ranch.”