Laugh Tracks in the Dust 4-17-10 |

Laugh Tracks in the Dust 4-17-10

Well, it’s taken a long time, but the Fence Post – Plains Edition has reached an important milestone – its 15th anniversary.

Few folks who aren’t in the farm newspaper bizness will appreciate all the keystrokes, business, editorial, personnel and production decisions, and technological changes that’s been involved in producing an informative, entertaining and profitable newspaper each week for 15 years that satisfies readers, advertisers and ownership. Take my word for it. It’s not easy. I know from past experience.


Let’s look back a little. Fifteen years ago, the internet and e-mails were just in their business infancy. Now, it’s hard to imagine publishing anything without the help of the internet and e-mails.

Fifteen years ago, it took printed paper copy, a wax machine, a light table, and a sharp cutting instrument to prepare a page for the printer. Today, those ancient technologies are all in the dust bin of history – as virtually all pages are produced by computer software.


From a personal standpoint, when I first started writing this column (more than twice 15 years ago), I had to write the columns a week on more in advance, and then snail-mail them to the various publications. The paper had to retype every word before it could publish my column.

A few years later, I could write my columns and FAX them to the papers. But the paper still had to retype every word.

Now, I can procrastinate right up until the last minute, write and e-mail my columns to the papers, and the papers never have to retype a single character. They just copy the words into the page via computer software. And, even if I sent a column on paper, the publication could slap the paper on an optical character scanner which converts the words to computer type and the publication would still never have to retype a single word.

That’s how much we’ve come to rely on computers in the newspaper business.


Looking back, my original involvement with the Fence Post was through former editor Warren Bridges. We originally met as friendly competitors on rival newspapers in Parsons, Kan. Warren earned my respect as a good writer and quick study on all things agricultural.

When Warren left, he said he wuz going to Colorado to help start up a weekly farm newspaper. He even called me a few times requesting “pointers” on the farm newspaper bizness. But then, we lost touch for a few years.

During that time, I moved to Boone, Iowa, but apparently Warren kept up with my move and my columns. Eventually, he called and requested that “Milo Yield” become a regular contributor to the Fence Post’s growing list of freelance columnists.

I readily agreed and my Laugh Tracks in the Dust column has appeared in every Fence Post since that date.

The best thing about writing a supposedly-humorous weekly column for farm/ranch folks is feeling like you know your readers, even though very few become known by name and address. Just knowing that I have a chance every week to bring a smile or laugh to thousands of readers is plenty of both incentive and reward.

But, time doesn’t stop for anything – even a 15th anniversary. Time marches on and eventually all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, although age and health have taken a toll on me, I have no intentions of hanging it up on Laugh Tracks in the immediate future.

In fact, I’m looking forward to participating in the Fence Post’s 20th anniversary.


For Fence Post readers who want to contact me with possible material for my column, here’s an update: Address: Milo Yield, 2532 YY Road, Emporia, Kan. 66801; e-mail:; website:; phones: 620-279-4343 or cell 620-344-1350.

I always appreciate reader suggestions for Laugh Tracks in the Dust. I’m lazy and it makes my job easier.


I’ll close for this special issue with this appropriate comment: A newspaper anniversary is a celebration of note when all employees work harder than usual for an event when, deservedly, they should get to relax.

I appreciate all the fine folks at the Fence Post. You’re collective effort for the past 15 years has yielded a respected agri-publication worthy of such an important milestone celebration.


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