The little newspaper that could: The Knob Rock Rattler turns 25

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Knob Rock Rattler, published in Shell Knob, Mo., is celebrating 25 years of publication.

Production has come a long way from the first typewritten issue, a one-sided flyer distributed to about 500 people and published in November 1979. Consisting of one sheet, it advertised Jeannie's Bittersweet Boutique and Lock's for Men clothing store.

Today the Rattler has a tabloid format and a distribution of 6,500 with at least 20 pages each week. After a stint with a Compugraphic system, it has kept pace with technology, now utilizing an Apple MacIntosh G4 and a pair of eMacs.

Most recently, according to Publisher and "chief flunky" Jeannie Jones, the Rattler has gotten a direct satellite link.

But despite the change in technology, The Knob Rock Rattler purposely maintains a small town community flavor, Jones said. "We're not mainstream media," she said. "We depend on people in the community to keep us informed of community activities."

The Nov. 17 edition includes stories on a Christmas Tour of Homes, a veteran's memorial service, and the Cassville, Mo., Christmas Parade; a variety of briefs about events in the area; a 65th wedding anniversary; library news; several church news items; an obituary; a report from a local woman's son-in-law who is stationed in Iraq; letters to the editor, recipes; a fire prevention program at Blue Eye, Mo., elementary school; news from area libraries; bridge, fishing and hunting reports; a new fire truck for the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District; a drive for Christmas gifts for Sioux, Gros-Venture, Assiniboin, Apache and Aztec Indian children, and a humane society column. The issue also contains an impressive 124 display ads along with a page and a half of classifieds.

The staff of seven, plus Jones, essentially sells and creates ads.

"I run to get photos, but we have no reporter on staff," Jones said. "And I don't have any journalism experience but for my high school newspaper when I was a sports writer ---- and that was many years ago."

The Rattler was founded with the belief by Bill and Joella Lock and Jones and her late husband, Glenn, that Shell Knob needed an advertising medium of its own.

The name, The Knob Rock Rattler, contains "knob" for the town, "rock" for Table Rock Lake, and "rattler" just for the fun of it, Jones said. Over the years, the paper's log has changed, most recently replacing line art of mountains and a lake view with a U.S. flag in light of the events of Nov. 11, 2001.

There have been many ups and downs over the years, Jones said. The biggest bump was the sudden death of Glenn in September 1984.

As anyone who works for a regular publication knows, deadlines are unforgiving, and there was little time for grieving as savings of 37 years were at stake, Mrs. Jones recalls.

Staff, friends, advertisers and readers came together to help, dark room procedures were learned, licenses obtained, and the business continued to grow.

The Rattler offices are located in the lower level of The Plaza, situated on the west side of Highway 39 in Shell Knob.

Said Jones, "Words cannot express my personal sincere thanks for the advertisers and readers who have supported us in the past and continue to support us. We are looking forward to serving the area for years to come."

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