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Small newspaper is of great importance in Oklahoma

The Mangum Star-News weekly newspaper in Mangum, Oklahoma, has a staff of five — counting the miniature pinscher.
by Bryan Painter Modified: October 6, 2013 at 3:00 am •  Published: October 6, 2013

Let's say you call the Mangum Star-News and Casey Paxton answers.

You won't get transferred if you ask for the city or county beat writer, sports writer, photographer, the person who picks up the paper from the printer at Shamrock, Texas, or takes this weekly newspaper to stores or to the post office. Casey's got those areas covered.

As for the titles of editor and publisher, those are shared by Casey and wife, Karla. Both raised in the Mangum area, sold their newspaper, the Cheyenne Star, in the summer of 1999 and purchased the Mangum Star-News.

The Star-News has a print circulation of about 1,650. They also attract readers online, he said.

National Newspaper Week is Sunday through Saturday. Among Oklahoma's newspapers are 140 weekly newspapers, according to the Oklahoma Press Association.

The Mangum Star-News — 50 cents for a single copy and $28 for an annual subscription within Greer County — is an example of a weekly newspaper and its importance to the community.

Mangum is the county seat, and with about 3,000 people accounts for roughly half of Greer County's population. This paper was established in 1887.

“Weekly newspapers are the original social network,” said Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association. “In most of these towns they still are the place where people really can find out what's going on.

“When you're in these smaller towns of course you know everybody and everybody knows you. They're very important to the life of a small town.”

The news

Coincidentally this year, Valentine's Day fell on Thursday, publication day for the Mangum Star-News.

So although the front page included news such as “New Tests Show Nitrate Levels Safe in Mangum Water” along the top was the “2013 Mangum Star-News Little Miss and Mr. Valentine” winners and the “2013 Little Miss and Mr. Critter” winners. Inside the paper were photos and bios including the names of family members of “Valentine Princesses and Princes 2013.” There were also additional pet pictures and bios on another page.

The Mangum Star-News was the source for the “48th Annual Rattlesnake Derby” in April, the Mangum High School graduation and the “102nd MHS Alumni Celebration Activities” in May, and the “81st Annual Mangum Mountie Rodeo” and the “Wild West Days” celebration in June.

“The Rattlesnake Derby will bring in thousands of people a year, which is a lot of fun,” Casey said.

The next month brings graduation and the alumni activities that span nearly a week. There's breakfast, barbecue, banquets, a dance, parades, golf tournaments “and lots, lots more.”

“There will be several hundred people come for that week,” Casey said. “We go all the way back. We've had some who are a 100 years old.

“The month after the alumni association events we have the Mangum Mounties rodeo.”

A variety of local news fills the pages of the newspaper throughout the year: car accidents, grass fires, book fairs, city and county government, legal notices, births, obituaries, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service column, nearby community information and “Tiger Talk, News from Mangum Upper and Lower Middle Schools.”

“Mangum is truly blessed to have people like Casey and Karla who care so much about our kids and the school system,” said Micky Lively, superintendent of Mangum Public Schools. “The Mangum Star-News helps to promote every event that occurs at our school, whether it is academics or extra curricular activities. Casey is always there taking pictures and cheering for our students.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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