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Correspondent sets 50-year milestone ADVERTISEMENT

Correspondent sets 50-year milestone

DUNDEE--When Clara Pinckney turned in the first Lakemont column for 2023 just before Christmas, she reached a milestone that few ever see. The new year marks 50 years of reporting local news, birthdays and events for The Observer newspaper.
A front-page story on the Jan. 18, 1973 paper reported the retirement of Freda Sawyer as the Lakemont correspondent for the paper of 25 years. Pinckney was announced as the permanent replacement after filling in on occasion previously. That edition featured a story about a new postmaster at the Lakemont post office and also a regular column that included news and updates about local residents written by Pinckney.
Some 50 years later, the Lakemont column is still produced and included every week in The Observer. As is typical for a newspaper correspondent, the writer's phone number is also listed in the paper which has also remained unchanged for the half-century the column has been in print.
The role of a newspaper correspondent was an essential aspect of reporting the news prior to the interconnectivity that the internet and cell phones provided. Correspondents were active members of the community that were involved with churches, local groups, the school and more and would give updates to help keep the residents aware of what was going on. It was not uncommon for local newspapers to have a dozen or more writers located throughout the coverage area to keep the readers informed of the news.
Although the development of digital social media has made the speed at which people can get their news faster, having wedding announcements, graduations, honor rolls and more printed in a form that can be cut out, framed or put in a scrapbook even more special.
Clara's column has done that for 50 years. If you covered the names and dates, the column from 1973 reads nearly the same as in 2023. Reporting the positive contributions of a local student, noting a memorable trip by a neighbor or a special event at the church are all things you will read about in the Lakemont column. Lately, you may also find a favorite recipe or learn about a group or person who could use some extra help in the community.
"We have had the pleasure to work with Clara for over 25 years during our ownership of the paper," said Publisher Emeritus George Lawson of The Observer. "A newspaper's goal is to serve the community and the role of a correspondent is critical to having a record of what happened in history."
Pinckney was celebrated with a 50 years of service commemorative award when she turned in her first column for 2023 in a presentation by Observer Publisher Brandon Lawson.
In the age of the internet, Clara still writes her column longhand and either delivers it to the newspaper or mails it to the office without fail. Editor Rikki Marcin then types the submission so it can be placed in the paper's layout. That process has evolved over the years from needing to have hard copies of everything and then physically cutting and pasting them to create a newspaper format, compared to today's digital pagination software.
Over the years, vacations or travels out-of-state have not stood in the way of turning in a Lakemont column, with various ones being sent in before the deadline for the edition.
Pinckney commented that hearing feedback from readers both local and far away is one of her favorite parts of writing for the paper.
"Is it 50 years?" asked Pinckney. "I knew I was at 45 not too long ago. Thank you to everyone who reads every week and lets me know of upcoming events."

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