One story at a time
By Frank Bowen IV

Warren Shiflet, 25, works on a court story for The Bourbon County Citizen. On the wall are various images taken from previous editions of the community paper.

Rebecca Lawyer, co-owner and publisher of The Bourbon County Citizen, is dedicated to telling the community's stories.

Telling the stories means exploring a variety of subjects. “We cover things from history to tourism to religion and everything in between,” she says. It’s important to focus on stories of local interest, she believes.

Writer Patricia Shiflett agrees. For the past year, Patricia has written spiritual columns for the paper. She says she values the paper’s focus on things small to others but big to residents. “People enjoy knowing about their neighbors,” she says. In her forthcoming book of columns, Patricia thanks the paper for helping her connect with the community.

In serving the community, Rebecca builds on a long history. The oldest newspaper in the region, The Bourbon County Citizen began more than 200 years ago. In 1946, Rebecca’s grandfather, Paul Brannon, purchased the paper and gave it its present name. Rebecca and her sister, Beverly Brannon, took over from their father and are now co-owners. Beverly, a graphic designer, works with layout composition and does graphic art for the ads.

As publisher, Rebecca oversees the weekly Wednesday print run at the Georgetown News-Graphic. Every Thursday morning, beginning at 4:30 a.m., 3,400 copies are delivered around the Paris area by driver Jerry Allen. Jerry says delivering the paper has been a dream of his.
Rebecca appreciates the support the community has given her by contributing stories and taking out advertisements. As partial thanks, she regularly shops at her advertisers. In the paper, she’s also offered raffles giving away country hams or, for older citizens, sandwiches and canned goods.

Community support for the paper was especially important during the challenges of the pandemic in 2020. “I walked in the door, and nobody was there,” Rebecca says. “It was just me and a computer and a newspaper that needed to get printed as it’s been printed since 1807 without missing a single issue.”

Businesses and advertisers stood by her, and people came in with fresh ideas for stories and offers to write them. “It was unbelievable,” Rebecca says. “I’m so indebted to these people. I don’t know how I can ever thank them.” Rebecca decided to focus on fun things occurring in the small town. That practice increased readership and support, and her staff started to grow again.

Rebecca hopes the paper will carry on past her leadership. “I can’t imagine the town without it,” she says.

Rebecca Lawyer, 69, is owner and publisher of The Bourbon County Citizen, a print newspaper where the citizens of Paris get their news. Rebecca spends her time reporting, publishing and photographing, along with many other duties that are essential to the survival of the paper.

In order to publish a variety of voices, Rebecca accepts the contributions from community members such as Patricia Shifflett, 83, left, who writes spiritual columns for the paper.

After stories are written and sent, Rebecca checks the format for any errors as she and the staff prepare to send next week's layout to Georgetown News-Graphic to be printed for publication.

The community paper has a press run of 3,400 copies. It's printed every Wednesday for distribution early Thursday morning.

Rebecca makes her way to the printing press to take photographs and check the progress of the paper along with production manager Josh Guthrie.

Pressmen do a quality control check on a paper that just came off the presses.

Jerry Allen, 75, delivers the papers to nearby gas stations and other businesses in town.

Bourbon County has had a community newspaper since 1807. Rebecca and her staff hope to keep the lights on and continue to do good community journalism well into the future.