Garrettsville – As last week’s warmer weather brought melting snow and renewed our hope of spring, it also brought forth a group of Girl Scouts on a field trip to the Weekly Villager office in Garrettsville. The group of Juniors from troop 732 and Brownies from troop 835 came to the weekly newspaper to find out more about how the newspaper works, and to meet the paper’s owners, Michelle Zivoder and Christine Gerez.
The tables were turned on the owners, as the girl scouts put on their reporter hats and peppered the two with questions such as, “How did you choose the name ‘Villager’?” The young ladies were told that the paper was originally founded back in 1867 as the Garrettsville Journal. In the late 1970s, the name was changed to “The Weekly Villager” to highlight its coverage of several nearby villages. Today, the paper is available each week at 200 distribution sites in Aurora, Burton, Freedom Township, Garrettsville, Hiram, Mantua, Middlefield, Nelson Township, Newton Falls, Parkman, Ravenna, Shalersville, and Windham.
Other questions, like “How do you pick what goes into the paper?” led to a discussion about how stories are chosen to appeal to the largest group of readers, of which the Villager has over 10,000. According to Mrs. Zivoder, “We’re in a different niche than other newspapers. We recognize that people have other sources for hard news, but they enjoy reading the Villager to find out about local news and events, and the great things their neighbors are doing. That type of story is often missing from daily newspapers.”
The girls got a better understanding of how the skills they’re learning in school today apply after graduation — like writing, graphics, computer skills, photography and especially math. But the best question came toward the end of the visit, when a child asked, “How do you know it’s true?” about the stories that run in the paper. Mrs. Gerez took that one, answering, “What a great question. We hire people who do research and check the facts of their stories. But we know that we can’t be right 100% of the time – sometimes we make mistakes, because everyone does now and then. When that happens, we apologize and do our best to make it right.”
The girls enjoyed their visit, and left with the challenge to submit their own stories and photos to the paper. Who knows? Some day soon, you just may be reading their stories or looking at their photos in a future issue of the Villager.