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Amish paper jumps into 21st century By Jonathan Drew
Associated Press A newspaper mailed to Amish families across the country is so old-fashioned that it doesn't even run photos with the stories.
For 116 years, The Budget has compiled simple dispatches written by scribes in Amish communities. Most of the pieces still arrive at the newspaper's northeast Ohio office in handwritten form because Amish shun electricity, and thus word processors.
So it might seem odd that The Budget recently established a Web site and plans to begin posting stories online by sometime next year. Around the country, the Amish receive their copies by mail.
But, as publisher Keith Rathbun explains, the conversational pieces that chronicle births, deaths, weather and farm developments have attracted readers outside the Amish and Mennonite communities the paper has traditionally served.
"The purpose of the Web site would be more as a research tool. There's a lot of people interested in the Amish and want to know more about them," he said. "There's ag people. Ohio State Extension regularly gets our papers for their classes. They study crop progress and the effect of drought."
Readers also include historians who study the Amish.
Rathbun prints about 20,000 copies of each edition of the weekly newspaper, 10,000 of which are mailed outside the state. Each one includes about 40 pages of news from Amish and Mennonite communities around the world.
Entries typically start out with a description of the weather. They discuss local events and agricultural activities and include births and ailments. "Last Sunday afternoon Mrs. John Schmucker ventured over to the neighbors and took a sled ride. The sled overturned hurting her back and she needed to be hauled home. I think she has decided to let the sledding for the younger generation," reads an entry from Hicksville in the Dec. 21 edition.
In Sugarcreek, Rathbun also publishes an expanded version of The Budget that features between 10 and 20 pages of articles about the non-Amish.
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