A fifth generation journalist looks at the past

Marissa Lute, Editor

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word ‘journalism’ is “the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio.” But have you ever wondered what the definition was ten years ago? What about 20 or 50 years ago? Today’s technology has lead us to believe that newspapers are no longer necessary. Instead of having the weekly newspaper delivered to your front door or picking it up at the local convenience store, now people are able to pay for an “e-subscription” so their copy is in the palm of their hands at any second of any day.

Duane Weber may not have known the specifics of the changes, but in 1996 he knew something was about to happen. When someone came along and offered to buy two of his three newspapers, it was a “done deal” as long as they bought all three. This is when he and his wife, Mary Jane Weber, walked away from journalism.

Osmond’s hometown weekly newspaper, The Osmond Republican, was purchased by M.T. “Matt” Liewer in 1929. In 1941, his son, Gene Liewer, moved the newspaper office to 312 N. State Street in Osmond, NE. Keeping it in the family, Gene’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary Jane and Duane Weber, bought the Osmond Republican in 1974, where the building remained its home until late February of this year. During their ownership, all three newspapers: The Osmond Republican, The Laurel Advocate, and The Randolph Times, were printed out of The Osmond Republican building.

The news of The Osmond Republican’s relocation down the street, indicated that it would have its final publication out of the building my family owned and operated for nearly seventy years. Before the big move, my mother, Tanya Lute and I decided to go and say one last “good-bye” for our family. As I approached the building, I remembered an old photograph of my great grandfather, Gene Liewer, standing in front of it. To me, this picture of him is the definition of “journalist”, but I can only imagine what it was like to be journalist in 1940’s and 50’s.

Gene Liewer in front of The Osmond Republican building in the 1960’s.

As we entered the building, it was like stepping back in time. Most of us have heard the expression “if these walls could talk”, but it was here, where I found its true definition. From the different signs around the office that my great grandfather printed, the light table that my grandfather built, to the “Keys” sign on the wall that my uncle made out of clay when he was young, everything had a seventy-five-year story to tell. Just imagine all of the stories and history that went through the dark room, printing presses, paper cutter and perforator.

IMG_3133 (600x800)

Earlier this week, I was given the opportunity to sit down and interview my grandpa, Duane Weber, while he was back from South Carolina. His stories and explanations of what journalism used to be, made me appreciate the printer’s ink that runs through my veins. I am proud to be a fifth generation journalist.