It’s Saturday night on Broadway. We’re waiting for Fats at the newsstand to count and stack copies of the Sunday Times the truck just dumped on the curb. Fats is fatter than ever. The Times is fat, too.
“Two stacks this week,” he says, no longer able to reach high enough to make one neat pile. “All the edges have to line up just right or the whole damn thing falls over.”
Then some guy comes along and tries to take the copy underneath the top. “Nobody wants the top copy,” Fats says, “It’s like someone has already read half of the front page and that makes it ‘used.’” Eyeworn?
Fats, the Times and the times were all pretty fat in those days. Is he still curbside on a Saturday? Probably could call a friend from the old days and ask. Nah. If it’s “yes,” so what? If it’s “no,” we’d have to investigate.
The paper was fat because every fat cat with a roll of bills in his pocket was eager to find new places to spend it. And every fat advertiser went to sleep Saturday night with dreams of those bill rolls dancing in his head.
Nice arrangement, then. Not so nice these days. The rolls are smaller and they’re mostly singles and fives. And there are fewer places to spend them. Fewer dancing dreams. The bills jammed lower in the pocket.
The price of reading news has been sinking for years. It starts with zero and works its way up to a few dollars a month. The price of covering news has changed inversely. This arrangement may work for A-list papers in A-list places. But it can’t work for the Sorta-Daily News of North Merrill’s Crossing, Nebraska.
So, you say… well, nothing ever happens in North Merrill’s Crossing, Nebraska, so who cares? They asked that about other tiny or otherwise insignificant places… like Kenosha, WI or Lynchburg, VA. Nothing ever happened. Until it did.
As is well known to regulars at this site, the official position here is that all politicians are self serving megalomaniacs who will say or do anything to keep their smutty little jobs -- most of which require no actual work.
Radio news is dead. Local TV news is all-bodies and all fires and ham pot pie dinners for retired postal workers and returning vets all the time. The politicians have been charged with guarding the Greater Good. Not good. Local papers and (a few) local websites are the only ones left to do what may be the most important job in journalism today.
--Why bother with the letter “w” when there are so many words with “u u” in them and the W is silent in so many others?
--When does a fringe idea become mainstream?
--Do you think your LED lightbulb will outlive you?
--Is your cellphone contract longer than your life expectancy?
--How do companies make money on 0% interest loans?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2020