Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Small Town Newspaper Blues

Of all the various explanations I have read for the decline of the local newspaper, I rarely see any commentary on the quality and balance to be found in today's newspapers. I present excerpts from a story that ran in our local rag as examples for study by those concerned for the future of the the old time "paper". 
So what if the odds of having a fling with a supermodel while winning an Oscar and the Masters is far more likely than winning the colossal Mega Millions lottery jackpot that, by Thursday afternoon, had risen to an astounding $540 million?
Thursday was not a day for rational thought.
Thursday was when bosses drew up economic prospectuses and had meetings and readied to cut pay and slash jobs. Thursday, politicians lied and stole.
Those mean bosses. Tell us more!
As those dry bores pleaded poverty and wrecked local, state and federal budgets, the people who work for them and pay the taxes for a country in economic crisis dashed for the store to blow part of the rent...
Dry bores!? Maybe our reporter needs to head out to the country club and interview a few of them at the old Nineteenth Hole where he can get to know them on a more personal level.

(Insert a few stories about local lottery ticket purchasers)
...Anybody who ever had a jerk for a boss bought a lottery ticket Thursday. A chance at $540 million is a chance to tell that boss with the bad breath and the hateful glare that a winning ticket means no more boss.
All over York County, people bought and bought and bought tickets.
They did so with hope, with prayers, with rosary beads in hand and Bible study bulletins rolled up as talismans, with dollars in hand.
Alright, the breath at the Nineteenth Hole may not be something that momma would be proud of (remember that "You smell like a brewery" remark), but "hateful glares"? I thought bosses could get sued for that these days.

(Insert a few more stories about local ticket purchasers)
...So what if the odds are one in 175 million? So what if the chances of being crowned King of Finland are better? Somebody in this country of 300 million-plus people has to win.
Grace Kelly married a prince all those years ago. A person in management smiled once and bought a cup of coffee. A boss sprang for a beer. A mother-in-law stayed less than six months. Dick Cheney’s heart was found to exist.
Newspaper managers cannot possibly be smiling at this point. And what does Dick Cheney have to do with this story?

(Insert even more stories about local ticket purchasers)
...Each person who has punched a clock will wait until 11 tonight, when the six winning balls are picked, and hope that the boss, called so many bad words under breath for years, will be called far worse loudly and over an intercom. Then the boss can be punched.
Read more here.
 I would like to think that the reporter was having a bad day, but if I were the editor (and the reporter's immediate "boss") of this paper, I would be watching my back. If I were the fat cat owner sitting back, smoking my big fat "ceegahrs," and plotting how to shut down a small local paper, I might chuckle and give myself a pat on the back for hiring these guys in the first place.

I wonder if the reporter bought a winning lottery ticket? Nah, I don't think so because I see that he has been assigned to the lost dog department.

In the meantime, I gotta check my ticket #s...


Pardon me while I punch myself.

If newspaper didn't have so many other uses, I might cancel my subscription. After all, you need a lot of it to make GIANT PAPIER-MÂCHÉ PUPPETS OF DOOM (a little inside Episcopalian joke),


  1. The reason our local weekly is so popular is that it focuses on local people, local sports, local issues. Unless a national issue touches our county, it's not in the paper. As the publisher said, "I can't compete with Drudge,so I'm only going to compete with me." (I wrote stories for him in high school for five bucks a pop. He was a stickler for grammar and gave me my first Strunk & White.

    The stuff you cite would never see the light of day in our paper, if for no other reason, than to avoid ticking off advertisers.


    1. Five dollars for a story, wow. You might as well blog for free.