Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A (news) paper cut can go deep

I know I’ve belabored it, another post about a silly newspaper. In a town I’ve only been in a few years yet. Wall Street crumbled and I hardly even blinked an eyelash, GM might go under and I shrug, but now my eyes keep spilling over as I read the last print edition of the Seattle Post- Intelligencer, the P.I.

I know I’m harping, but it seems no one else is. Which makes me even sadder. I’ve been leafing through the last edition, and the history that the paper has been a part of is awe-inspiring.
There’s an episode of “Seinfeld” where Jerry tells a woman that his friend George Costanza is a marine biologist. George exclaims “But you know I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect.”

I myself-I’ve always wanted to be a journalist, and I'm sorta pretending to be one now. Had I not been so lazy when I was younger I think I would have tried a lot harder to get into print or broadcast news.

(One of my all time favorite movies, “Broadcast News”…the part where Holly Hunter unplugs the phone and cries hysterically than goes back to work…. I can relate. )

But for me, there was also a glamorous glow in newspaper writing. I don’t know where I got that feeling, but I think I’ve always felt that way.

I feel bad for the PI employees who had to go. Some of them, 10, 20, 30 years on the job. I know what it’s like to be in an extremely specialized field.

I remember trying to get a “real “ job in New York City. I was registering with a temp agency and the recruiter went over my resume with a black Sharpie, obliterating 10 years of my life. She reduced my radio career to whatever “administrative” or “managerial” work I had done, insisting I include nothing about being on-air, which she said would hurt my chances for getting a job.

She slashed and cut, and a piece of me went too. I left the building to sob on the corner in the pouring rain, realizing I didn't have enough money to get a hot dog AND get the bus back to Jersey. That’s when I realized radio was no longer payin’ they bills, the mean ol’ Sharpie lady was right.

It’s ironic that the very part that was cut is the very part that people are fascinated with. My friends, family are always like “my friend used to work in radio” It doesn't matter what I’ve done after. That will be the defining time of my life. It can be exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.

So I do empathize with the PI peeps. It’s hard to adapt to “civilian” life. I don’t think I ever really have. I truly wish them all well in their future endeavors, and hope they don't run into too many recruiters who are brandishing Sharpies.

And I think the kids today; they don’t know the glitz of the daily’s. The well written thought out news stories, in-depth articles, thought provoking opinions. Instead, the cynical "short attention span" generation gets all it’s news from a bunch of yahoo bloggers. Yes, present company included.

There’s a picture on the front page of the last PI issue that’s showcases a quote from Thomas Jefferson gracing the walls of the P.I building:

“Were it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Here here!

1 comment:

Anne Wayman said...

There really is nothing like the smell of the ink and the rumble of a giant, or even not so giant web press as a daily or weekly is spewed out... I can conjure that up in my memory in an instant. Of course, San Diego hasn't had a real newspaper in ages... real in the sense of anything approaching balanced coverage. Our Union/Trib has been on the market long enough to make me suspect it will just disappear.

Meanwhile a friend of mine is a major editor for an about to be launched web newspaper for the area... which will make two - it's not the same, but then I'm not the same either. Times are changing and in truth I really wouldn't go back.

Ann Wayman, now blogging at