Old Ways Still Best

“Just a newspaper.”

That simple phrase brought ire from a dedicated reader when writing about checking the mailbox and finding “just a newspaper.”

“Oh Frank. How could you write it?” she questioned.

“Having spent my entire adult life in the company of print journalists, my heart sinks at the words: Just a newspaper,” the lady continued.

At first alarmed, the sting quickly left realizing that ‘off the cuff’ comment could be taken offensively. Even more so emphatic for “a print journalist myself from time to time.”  

Clarifying her point, she added, “I’ve seen your stories in other newspapers, so I know you have respect for an audience of readers.”

Guilty as charged, immediate apology was in order seeking reprieve for wrongdoing.

“Ooooops. You are right. As a lifetime dedicated writer, newspapers are always important mail. Subscribing to nearly two dozen daily, weekly and monthly print publications; it’s only disappointing when one doesn’t arrive.”

Briefly relating newspaper career spanning high school, college and 46 years professionally, apology insisted. “I’m sorry for my bad stepping across the line. In modern times, seldom does anybody edit stories. Had a smart knowledgeable person like you critiqued the piece, suggestion could have been made to change that offensive terminology. Unquestionably, there is room for improvement of most writings.”

Fortunately, the concerned reader, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, accepted the cowboy’s penitence.

“Thank you so much for your response to my rant. My late husband had a lifelong career with The Kansas City Star and Times. Big urban newspapers have shrunk drastically in recent years, but smaller papers continue providing news that is the lifeblood of small communities.”

Importantly for any writer, the nice lady assured: “I will continue to be a reader.”

It’s been weeks since that congenial correspondence, but meaningfulness of the conversation becomes more important.

Reading at least three newspapers daily, they are “thin,” important news intact, but little more. Circulation is down with few advertisers paying the bills.

“It is a fast changing time,” repeating forefathers. Sadly for a cowboy newspaperman, social media is impacting every form of traditional news and entertainment.

Not “just the newspaper,” but serious editorial concern; frightening. “Harmful to the future,” more-in-the-know opinioned.   

Reminded of Luke 5:39: “After drinking old wine, no one wishes for new. The old is fine.”