Do you know why I got into journalism? More than 40 years ago, when I was a sixth-grader with no plans for his future (beyond some wild dreams of becoming an archeologist and discovering a new type of dinosaur), I got involved in the elementary school’s student newspaper. It was a tiny thing, just a few pages, reproduced on the office mimeograph machine three or four times that year and handed out to every student and faculty member in the school. But through it, I discovered a passion for talking to people and telling their stories, a passion that has stuck with me ever since.

That led to more school newspapers in junior high, high school, and college, as well as several odd jobs and internships at my local daily and Sunday newspapers. After graduating, I got my first real job in journalism, as a reporter right here in Lebanon County. I soon moved on to a larger newspaper in a nearby community, where I worked for 35 years as a writer and copy editor. Since the summer of 2019, I have worked as a writer and editor for LebTown.com.

Through it all, I never lost my passion for local journalism. What makes it so important? Local news has the biggest impact on you and your neighbors. Local politics have the biggest impact on your community. Local schools have the biggest impact on your children’s education. Decisions by local officials affect your spending every day, and you have more influence over local taxes than you do on state and federal levels. On another level, a story on local history might teach you something about your neighborhood you didn’t know, and a human interest feature might help you better know and understand your neighbors.

So, while national and international news is also vitally important, it’s usually the local stuff that matters most to our everyday lives. Every local story is important to someone right here in Lebanon County.

I have spent most of my adult life talking to people, attending meetings, researching documents or observing events, and telling those stories. I have always considered it a sacred trust, and an honor, to chronicle the events of a community, and I’m proud now to be helping to spread the word about Lebanon County – an area with a rich history and its own geographic and cultural identity.

That’s why I like LebTown. LebTown is about Lebanon County, about the people who live and work here, as well as the things that matter to them. But it can only thrive with the Lebanon community’s support. We want you to be able to count on us as a resource for information, but to make that happen we need your help. We need your involvement. Your input. Your suggestions. Your praise and, yes, your criticisms. What are we doing well, and what can we do better? And we also need your financial support because, as we all know, journalism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Just because you can click on a LebTown headline and read the story for free doesn’t mean there aren’t hefty costs associated with producing those articles. You can help by becoming a LebTown member for just $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year. Or, if you prefer, you can make a one-time contribution to help keep ink in our pens and pixels on our website.

With a simple click, you can help keep local news alive and vibrant in south-central Pennsylvania!

As for me, besides my work at LebTown, I’m a freelance writer, an Irish fiddler, a husband, son and father, a gardener and a dog lover. And, I hope, I’m a trusted storyteller. If you know something that LebTown readers should know about – or just might find interesting – please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, our editor and publisher Davis Shaver (editor@lebtown.com) or any other staff member here at LebTown. With your help, we can make this community even better!

Please keep reading!!

Cheers,
Tom

Tom Knapp

Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.