Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'll miss the newspaper

     I'm a dinosaur, I truly am.  I hold on to things for sentimental reasons and am slower to change than the Catholic Church.  This week, however, I finally moved on from a one sided relationship that I have had for a while that I can only liken to being an abused spouse.  This week I broke it off with my local paper.

     It's been bad for years, but I've hung on hoping for it to get better.  I started reading my local paper at the age of 12 or 13 at the same time I accepted a job to deliver it.  I found great value and worth in the job.  It was good exercise, not only the walking but carrying the 100 or so papers in my shoulder bag, and I felt I was doing an important service, keeping the public informed with topical happenings, world-wide news and sprinkled throughout with human interest stories about my neighbors in Canandaigua.  People looked forward to seeing me come and waited anxiously to read the latest news, and they tipped me handsomely for delivering it properly.  A retired Methodist minister was known for putting full size candy bars in his paperbox as a treat for the carrier, and my last stop each day was in the kitchen of a retired veteran named Mr. Giles.  He would take a Boston Cream pie out of the freezer, cut two slices for us, and then we'd talk for a half an hour while waiting for it to thaw enough for us to eat it.  I shudder to think what a nice guy like Mr. Giles would be called today, the nerve of him, inviting young boys into his home and plying them with pie, but back in 77, that's how I ended my paper
route each day.  Is it any wonder that I have fond memories of the paper Since I have memories like this that connect me to it?  That's the problem with memories though, eventually you have to stick your head out of the sand and view the new reality and like I said, it's been going south for a while now.

     I don't think I was asking for too much, and in fact I didn't want the paper to change at all, I would have been happy in the relationship, if it had just stayed the same, but it didn't.  Each and every aspect of it that I had loved, changed for the worse.  The comic page that used to be 3-4 pages with big print with the most current strips, shrunk to half it's size, left the worst strips in and let the best ones go, added huge ads for closeout stores onto it and shrunk the print to the point that I couldn't read it, even with my glasses.  Why?  The front page that used to have hard hitting journalism, that was meticulously edited, became a repeat of the mornings news peppered throughout with misspellings, sometimes even in the headlines.  Sad when they let themselves go like that.  Then it was the missing pieces where a story would start on page 1 and tease you to page 6 to find
out the rest of the story, but sometimes I go there, and they would have forgotten to put in the end of the article.  It was like buying a garage sale book and finding the last page torn out, except that I wasn't buying the paper at a garage sale, I was paying a premium price to have it delivered, almost daily.  I say almost daily, not because they didn't publish on Saturday, that I expected, it was the occasional, "oops I forgot to bring you a paper today" thing  that became more of a regular occurrence than it should have.  I'd walk to the end of the driveway to come back empty handed, and that was the beginning of the end, because some days I didn't miss it.   It would come the next day, and it would go right to the recycling bin, too late, you can't take this guy for granted.  I have more self respect, but I'll admit, I did hang on a little longer, it was just never the right time to separate. 

     The paper kept getting more and more expensive and my budget was shrinking last year.  I already had a wife and 3 kids to support, and this mistress of mine was costing me over $230 a year and that was without tipping my sometimes errant route driver.  The paper kept shrinking in size and the adspace kept increasing.  They started putting in information from surrounding counties just to fill it.  I guess it's all right to review restaurants in Fairport or Perinton, but geez, could you toss a few in from Geneva or Canandaigua sometimes? They started a section where they asked local people to send in their photo's, and then printed them.  If I wanted to see the local people's photos, I'd go sit on their couches and watch the slideshows of their vacations like normal people.  They weren't fooling me,  they just didn't want to pay photographers anymore. I kept putting off the decision to terminate but a few weeks ago, the decision got easier to make.  First it was the article about the Culinary Center in Cdga that was half of a page of words, but truly told nothing of the exciting changes at the facility.  Ironically the article that followed a few days later in the Rochester paper did do a great job and went in depth to describe the new direction and plans for the center, but I had to go elsewhere to get satisfied with this information.  It made me fell dirty and cheap, but my needs were not being met with my home paper relationship  (I know it sounds like I'm justifying it....)  The second thing was the "Best of Ontario County" poll that they sponsored.  It was so lacking in information that it would have been tough to vote for most of the categories.  Waitresses were nominated, but no mention of the restaurant where they worked?  Why?  I was fortunate enough to get nominated as best blogger but they didn't research or tell people how to get to any of the nominee's blogs, including mine.  I did cancel my subscription prior to the results being posted and incidentally I didn't win.  I hope it doesn't sound like sour grapes, but the business that did win for best blogger and liquor store had a full page ad in the same paper where it was announced.  Call me cynical,  but if you'll selectively leak the results of a poll to sell ad space is it too much a stretch to think the poll may have been less than unbiased?   I don't know, but clearly it wasn't about educating the public about the winners, no pictures or bio's or any information was given about the winners.  Would it have killed them to send a photographer out to take some pics of the winners?  It clearly wasn't about them, it was about selling more ad space.

    So I'm out now and will soon receive my last paper. I'll miss it at first, but I'll replace it with something better, less expensive, and something worthy of the time that I choose to spend with it.  It will be a relationship not based on disconnected  memories of how it used to be, but one of equal value where I find new things to love about the practice each day and one that fulfills all my needs as a reader.  Hmm, I wonder if there is a decent blog somewhere out there that will do this?  I'll have to look.


cdyarger said...

I will miss it too, but I agree with your sentiments. It has gone steadily downhill, hardly worth the paper it is printed on anymore!

Judy Johnson said...

Stay strong, Bill - I wasn't able to do it. I missed seeing Dennis Money's pictures over, and over, and over.........LOL!