Columns

Go ahead, use the T word 2015.09.16

What do you know... I was just communicating with the editor os the Cordova, Alaska, newspaper yesterday. Today I'm using a column from 20 years ago that mentions my newspaper exchange which included te Cordova Times. Here we go again...

BY DAVID GREEN

It’s not so lonely out there anymore for us little newspapers. A new little paper was born in Blissfield last week. It’s unfortunate that the second edition will have to report how their football team lost to Morenci, but I’m sure they’ll do it with a shred of dignity.

It’s not exactly a new paper. It’s the 121-year-old Blissfield Advance that went in for reconstructive surgery and came out in what I call a tabloid newspaper. But that’s not what publisher Paul Heidbreder calls it. He can’t use the T-word and he’s calling his new design a “reader size” paper.

He can’t fool me. It’s a tabloid just like the Observer, the National Enquirer, the Star, the Daily News and all the rest. If the new Advance is reader size, then the old Advance was…what? Fish wrap size? Puppy training size? Don’t worry, Blissfield readers, you can still do all that with a tabloid.

I’m glad Paul decided to make the change. He and his wife, Kelly, have created a real beauty. As of last Thursday, Paul said he had received plenty of compliments along with just two complaints. I think I heard only one complaint when I changed from the large broadsheet size to tabloid. Someone told me the new style had too many pages to read.

I don’t really think of the tabloids of the world as “little papers.” It’s just that the others are too big for easy handling. We send some Observers to New York City every week. We have readers who ride the subway. We want a product they can use.

One of my favorite tabloids, the Homer (Alaska) News, is looking for a new reporter. Their advertisement is a little puzzling, but maybe it offers a solution to my perpetual predicament. Apparently they don’t want their reporters to stay very long.

I’ve had several reporters who could have stayed forever, as far as I’m concerned, but they always moved on. We think we have a great staff currently, but do you think Heather Walker is going to stay here forever for the not-so-wonderful mix of high hours and low wages?

Here’s the Homer solution. Their advertisement mentions how their writers have gone on to the Anchorage Daily News, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. “We’re looking for someone who wants to follow those kinds of footsteps after working two years at Alaska’s best weekly.”

Two years and you’re out. They even mention a departure bonus.

I guess that’s the answer. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by hoping they’ll stay. Instead, make it clear from the start: We want you to leave after two years.

Now if I could only figure out a way to get two years out of a reporter.

I’m still reading the police news most every week from the four Alaska newspapers I receive. Don’t I have better things to do? Probably, but those northern crime reports offer good entertainment on occasion.

A few weeks ago in Valdez, there were eight bicycles stolen, but there was also a report of a disappearing building. A 14 by 16 foot building—including the wooden steps and porch deck—was filched.

That’s a good one, but there was another week in Valdez that was even better. There was plenty of the usual stuff—a bear and three cubs in the campground, a bear in a subdivision, a bear on someone’s porch—but bears weren’t the only animal in the news.

A caller reported the possibility of cruelty to animals. She saw a hamster riding a remote control car, doing wheelies.

I like the word “possibility.” Innocent until proven guilty. There’s always the possibility the hamster was part of a crash test experiment. There’s the possibility the hamster was having the time if its life doing wheelies on its own little car.

By comparison, life seems a little dull in southern Michigan. Eat your heart out, Police Chief