Some Unwritten Stories (tf)

I stopped getting a newspaper years ago. A cost-cutting manuever as I recall….although the fact that Scranton’s once proud Scranton Times has turned into one big advertising supplement had something to do with it. When Scranton ceased to be a 2 newspaper town, the Times didn’t have any incentive to try very hard anymore. So they mostly didn’t. The grizzled veterans that gave the paper its color and unpredictability either retired or were forced out when management brought in an ax man from out-of-town to increase the bottom line. The new breed of reporters all wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein, and what followed was a seemingly endless procession of partisan political hatchet jobs. You could practically see the blood mixed in with the newsprint. I have to admit that some of these exposes were quite well done (and the paper does have a few excellent reporters and one outstanding columnist), but most veered so wildly off the reservation that they came dangerously close to self-parody. If you became an enemy of the Times, you could count on being pilloried for putting your pants on in the morning. There’s a “ho-hum” quality to the punches now that lessens their impact.

The newsroom became two things a newsroom should never be. A blunt instrument of ideology, and a strict observer of the company balance sheet. It wasn’t a service to the people anymore. It was just another entry in a very large ledger, and editorial decisions were made accordingly. As an example, for every legit news story there is now at least one family-paid-for “poem” to a deceased loved one. Which seems a cringingly manipulative way to bring in dollars. But maybe I’m just old-fashioned (a quick aside. The paper seems allergic to local artists, and would much prefer the pretentious twaddle of a transplanted New Yorker to a story on a gifted homer. This reasoning escapes me but seems, at least in part, the result of a massive inferiority complex they will not admit to).

Not that any of this matters much to the masses. Most who still get the paper are more interested in the obituaries and the annual mother’s day edition, which weighs about 50 pounds and takes about 3 days to get through. There is one lady who dresses herself and her daughter in matching leopard outfits, and I for one can’t rest until I find her. Another lady always has her pet snake in the picture, wrapped around one of her kid’s necks. Year after year. You feel like you know these people, and they seem way more interesting than, say, the political acumen (or lack thereof) of an AJ Munchak. Of course there’s a hefty fee to get your mother’s day pic in the paper, and guys like Munchak are covered in much more….er…..depth. And for free. That hardly seems fair. But it’s the price of doing business.

Like Stevens I’m also an admirer of the wedding and engagement pictures, but for less intellectual reasons. I enjoy the pretty girls. Some gorgeous brides and brides-to-be in there. Sometimes I catch myself looking at the guys and saying, “what the hell? You must have money fella…”

I too will notice the ultimate destinations of the newly betrothed. All too frequently they’re moving away. There’s not much here anymore for the young and in love. We’re slowly losing our most precious resource. Our children.

How to write that story?

–Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on June 6, 2011.

One Response to “Some Unwritten Stories (tf)”

  1. Inferiority Complex – 10.
    Went to a George Carlin show in Scranton many years back, the opening jokester came out and said “It is great to be in Scranton, the greatest city in the world” – to absolute dead silence. I guess stuff like that works in NYC. Seems the folks who are stuck in Scranton know exaclty where they are.

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