Local Papers

A few weeks ago, USA Today reported about Warren Buffett‘s admission of “an ‘almost unnatural’ newspaper love.”

Those of us who share that love rejoiced! I’m not sure it’ll actually change the course of the newspaper business but it does feel good to have a belief validated by one of the world’s most successful and respected businessmen and for this man to go on record with a viable plan to sustain a portion of an arguably dying industry.

I worked in-house at a major record label for the first part of my career. Since leaving I’ve been in a slow transition into journalism or content creation (depending on which hat I’m wearing). I feel like a dust devil in slow motion – spinning about, not sure where I am or where I’m going to end up. Hoping I don’t leave a trail of my own destruction in its wake. It didn’t help that around the time I really began writing I read one of Seth Godin’s books – I’m pretty sure it was The Dip – and he basically said that only a idiot would think about getting into newspaper writing now. I always joke that I left the record business to open a steel mill in Pittsburgh or a car company in Detroit. Things only an idiot would do.

I am, to a fault, nostalgic about many things and I have a romantic notion about newspapers. But I, like Warren Buffett, also know there is no better place to find out what’s going on in a town.

“…a successful newspaper must provide material that is important to its readers and that they can’t find elsewhere. ‘You can define that better in a smaller city than in a sprawling metro area.'” – USA Today

So I read them. I buy them. I subscribe to them. I write for them – first the Southern Star in Ozark, Alabama, then the Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Our Town Downtown in Manhattan.

The other major transition in my life has been from full-time single gal about town New Yorker, to Army wife. I’ve had more change in my life in the last 6 years than the entire preceding 18. I try to explain it to my husband like this: When we get to a new town it’s like Christmas morning and you get a nice shiny new life (job, friends, scheduled activities). I get a box of broken pieces that I will spend the next 1 – 3 years putting together in unique and interesting ways and when I finally have it to a point where I can step back and say “Look! I’ve created something here!,” someone comes along and kicks it across the room, and we start all over again somewhere new.

At the times of “somewhere new” I remember two things. One is a quote from The Shawshank Redemption – “at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.” And the other is the scene from “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” They’ve all just arrived in India and are on a bus ride from the airport to their town. Dame Judi Dench’s character asks Tom Wilkinson’s character if he thinks they’ll be alright. He begins to say he has no possible way of knowing what’s going to happen to them but then he stops and simply says: “It’s going to extraordinary.”

So here we are in our next “somewhere new.” We’ve settled into a house, unpacked things and put them away, and are now getting into the rhythm of daily life. It helps to find one or two touchstones that encourage a feeling of familiarity. For me, it’s the daily newspaper.

Ours began arriving this morning. It was extraordinary.

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