The world of community journalism has lost a good man.
Jerry H. Adkins, the first circulation manager for the daily Commonwealth Journal, died Tuesday at the Jean Waddle Hospice Care Center in Somerset. He was 80.
Adkins, a native of Huntington, West Va., joined the Somerset newspaper in December 1965, just prior to merger of The Commonwealth and The Somerset Journal, two weekly newspaper, into the daily Commonwealth Journal, first published Monday, January 3, 1966.
A people person, Adkins truly understood the vital connection between a newspaper and its readers. He never forgot stark differences between community journalism and the metropolitan press. Community newspapers belong to us. Big city papers are cold and impersonal.
Adkins drove back roads of Pulaski County, knocking on doors and talking with rural people. He was a promoter; he offered special discounts to get people started reading the new daily newspaper. Adkins was outgoing and friendly, never meeting a stranger.
He was totally convinced once householders were accustomed to having the daily newspaper in a green tube in front of their houses they would become Commonwealth Journal subscribers.
It worked. Pulaski countians loved their new daily newspaper. Adkins established motor routes in places previously familiar with only a rural mail carrier. The daily Commonwealth Journal was off and running under Adkins’ watchful eye.
A journalist at heart, Adkins, during his travels around the county, never missed a good story. During the 10 years Adkins headed the Commonwealth Journal Circulation Department, he brought hundreds of story ideas back to editors, often accompanying reporters to the scene.
Adkins found a farm tractor that would start when lightning flashed; a clock in the Texas community that ran backward; an old man who lived by God’s time, refusing to accept Daylight Saving Time; and a nest of vicious baby copperheads, triggering a story that launched the Humble Reporter column in this newspaper.