Newsprint: All Quiet at the County Courant
While the town of Wall, South Dakota, swarmed with tourists visiting the famous Wall Drug store (“Free Ice Water”), things were quieter at the office of the local newspaper, the Pennington County Courant. Enjoy another “Newsprint” photo from Peter Crabtree’s series on small newspapers across the United States.
You’ll find weekly newspaper staffers in the office at all hours of the day and night just before publication. So when Sunday rolls around, reporters and editors are likely resting up for the next week’s race to beat the deadline.
Photographer Peter Crabtree visited Wall, South Dakota, on a Sunday, so he didn’t get inside. He snapped an exterior shot of the Pennington County Courant. The photo is part of Crabtree’s series “Newsprint,” a series of photos of small-town newspaper offices and staff that he shot on a cross-country trip.
(For more on Crabtree, see the “Viewfinder” interview we did with him.)
Unlike Wall’s best-known attraction (Wall Drug), the Courant is housed in a tiny, nondescript building with a quirky-fonted sign replicating the paper’s nameplate. It’s the only visible mark of personality on an otherwise workman-like façade.
Here’s how Peter remembers the day:
It was a Sunday afternoon and the town of Wall was filled with tourists milling about Wall Drug Store, a famous roadside attraction. Just a few blocks away, however, I came across the Courant. I found it’s stillness a welcome contrast. I also liked the jangle of its typeface.
Wall had 876 residents in 2013, less than a percent of Pennington County’s population. The population center is an hour to the west in Rapid City. Rapid City has just over 50,000 residents, making Pennington officially a metropolitan county, if you follow the Office of Management and Budget classification system (we aren’t this time around).
The Cision newspaper data service says the Courant has a circulation of 1,123.
Wall, of course, is home to Wall Drug, whose official history says the owners started offering ice water on a hot day to help improve business, which was slow in 1936. Nearby is Badlands National Park, a quarter-million acre stretch of tiered cliffs and gorgeous views.