Friday, November 19, 2010

The Voice of Us: Save The Kent Good Times Dispatch

                      When I had my log cabin on Hatch Pond in South Kent, Connecticut, I subscribed to a weekly newspaper called the Kent Good Times Dispatch
                         In the old days, according to the KGTD, you got bad news once in a while.  A neighbor’s barn caught fire and burned to the ground.  Taxes went up. A friend died.  Sometimes the bad news came in bunches, but for the most part bad news was scattered and you could go for weeks, even months without hearing bad news.  

Click on pictures to enlarge. Please.

                          Now we get bad news non stop all the time from all around the world.  Cholera in Haiti, financial collapse in Dublin, Woman shoots son in Minnesota., Starvation in North Korea.  Now the bad news never stops; it's on the radio, TV and the web 24/7. No wonder people on the street look depressed.  They have to take all that bad news all the time.
                          So the publisher of the Kent Good Times Dispatch decided to publish a paper that skipped the bad news, and just told the good news.  It was a good paper, if a little dull.  The Drugstore was going to remodel, the owners of the one track railroad line from Danbury to Litchfield were thinking about reviving the railroad.  The firemen were having a BBQ on Saturday afternoon.  All welcome. Wood Duck population on the rise.
                 The KGTD wasn’t sexy, but it was well written and a good ten minute read. 
                Good news in rural North Western Connecticut, alas, wasn’t enough to keep the paper going and the paper finally died with a circulation of 563.
                 I told my Dad, Clarence Judd, about the little paper, and he took the idea and ran with it.  He had edited the Larned Eagle Optic and been a reporter for the AP and The Cleveland Press. He had newsprint stamped all over his generous soul.  So at 70, he founded the Wayne Mainer, a weekly little paper that told the good news of rural Maine.  He kept it going through his terrible accident until he was 86 when he put away his typewriter and sold the Mainer to a local newspaper chain.
               But it too died.  As did the Garden City Chronicle that was the source most of yesterday’s blog
               The great journalist I F Stone once said that the point of a newspaper is to shine the bright light of truth on the dark scurryings of government.  As far as the local GM dealer is concerned the point of a newspaper is to sell cars.  You can find any number of things a newspaper ought to do from recipes to recording the half truths of politicians.  And figuring out which half is the truth.

              The need for local newspapers is as great as it ever was.  To lose them is to lose the voice of the individual, the voice of us, in the rising corporate roar.  If you know a way to keep our local voice alive, speak up.

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