March 2, 2021

Lori Freeze is news editor at the Stone County Leader in Mountain View, Arkansas, her first and only full-time job for 33 years. The 4,500-circulation weekly newspaper temporarily reduced its page counts by two to four pages after advertising declined but returned to its regular 20 pages by early July.

Freeze had hoped the pandemic would be a unifying time for the public and media and said it was disheartening how quickly things turned political. At the local level, however, she saw a wave of support with subscription renewals after running a “We’ve got your back” editorial that explained the pandemic’s impact on the paper.

“We’re still there. We’re still doing our job,” Freeze said. “We’re there for you trying to provide the information you need.”

Listen to the oral history interview:

Read the transcript.

See the front page of the Stone County Leader from March 25, 2020.

See the front page of the Stone County Leader from April 8, 2020.

See the opinion page of the Stone County Leader from April 15, 2020.

See more from The Essential Workers, an oral history project tracking the experiences of locally owned newspapers in Mid-America during the pandemic.

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Teri Finneman is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas. She previously worked as a print journalist and multimedia correspondent covering state…
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