What is Now Isn’t News


Next month marks one year of writing for the local daily newspaper. It has yet to feel anything less than a joy, an adventure and quite the experience.

I see quite a few people once a month or so, and I’ve observed and chronicled them doing their duties, so to speak. The changes are numerous, except that they are all dedicated to their elected offices. That hasn’t changed a bit.

I’ve watched the lines in one small town mayor’s face grow deeper and deeper, his shoulders a little more hunched and his step just a little slower each month.  He volunteers his time to do much of the work needed around his small town without a second thought, and he was rewarded with a drive-by bullet through his front door a few weeks ago.

Another small town mayor’s voice has grown quieter and softer. He’s had to hire help for his aging secretary who had been slowing down quite a bit. Two months ago, he had three stints put into his heart, and showed up to the council meeting two days later. There was a petition to pass around concerning the landmark bridge connecting the two halves of his town.

The mayor of the second largest city in the county is faring a bit better, though his hairline is receding. His town has the resources to support strong and capable people, and he manages them well. But, some of those people have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have gone through open heart surgery not so long ago. Somehow, it seems that everyone is less excited about the next town celebration event, and no ears heard the latest reports of progress. If the mayor is feeling more weight on his shoulders, he’s bearing it well.

Two years ago, the area’s Representative was young, vibrant, full of life and energetic. When I saw him last, his hair was shot through with gray, his smile was much slower to light his face, and his eyes too tired to lift with the corners of his mouth. Still, his hug was warm and welcoming, though it too was tired.

My editor’s sense of humor and seemingly endless good cheer both have diminished as he continues to work his ass off to get his paper out every day. A whole department was closed, much of the support staff has been laid off, and advertising revenue continues to shrink. The paper comes out every day by the force of his will alone.

Every town is growing, all projected to triple citizenship soon, and all are facing reduced revenues, just like the remaining surviving businesses. So many factories are now idle and silent, empty and boarded up storefront windows line sidewalks, and weeds poke through more parking lots and wall cracks.

Every morning, my drive to work seems a bit easier with less traffic to slow me down. I no longer see Hummers or BMWs, and not many other new cars either. There’s no trouble finding a parking spot at the grocery store, feed store or Wal-Mart. The same cars sit in the dealer’s lot, the for sale signs in front of several houses have faded in the sun and more lawns grow shaggy.

More faces, fewer smiles. The loss is felt all around as good cheer fades away much like this gorgeous flower will fade in no time at all. The beauty is still there, perhaps hanging by a thread, but how much longer will it last? I continue to write the news, but all this is never part of the stories I submit to the paper.

Still, I wonder. How much longer will it last?


  1. Beautiful mallow you've pictured there. I have some in my yard that are just beginning to burst open; those that didn't get done in my last years Japanese Beetles that is.

    Interesting perspective, I see new business, new cars, busy streets and more traffic. I see mostly positive signs the situation has indeed turned. I see people moving, houses being filled with new buyers.

    Perhaps some geographic areas are coming back quicker.

    Hope you'll swing by for a visit, the welcome mats always out

  2. It could be geographic. Arkansas was shielded quite a bit from the national downturn by the natural gas boom of the Fayetteville Shale Play. That is now at a standstill, and the boom is over.

  3. Things are not changing here either. We live in a state where there are very few jobs to begin with and businesses are closing left and right.
    I'm so sorry all the people around you are showing stress. And I'm sorry to think of any newspaper struggling. We are losing too many as it is.

  4. We were half expecting things to turn around, or at least show signs of it, by now. I can only hope my local paper doesn't close entirely. It's been around since the late 1800s and the owner has another in a much larger city, so maybe it will hang in there. I hope so!

  5. Decide to drop in before I called it a day - so glad I did.

    In the business sections of our area (north central WV) the traffic is as high as it has ever been. The checkout lines in the stores are as long and the people in general seem carefree.

    Being we are 'coal country' and our President stated very clearly during his campaign for presidency that many energy producing companies that produce mainly on coal might go bankrupt under his administration (which amounts to 50% of our energy production)- I wonder how many of the people that voted for him actually believed anything that he said.

    I guess that the old saying "Believe half of what you see and nothing that you hear" needs to be revised somewhat huh?

    Of course, much is yet to be seen...but how many are actually listening?

  6. I'm glad you did drop in!

    I have seen a few changes in the form of band-aids since the change of hands in the presidency. Most seem only to delay the inevitable. Things aren't good out there, and this president hasn't figured out that 1) he can't change it, or 2) it can't be fixed. I believe nothing of what he says - he's a showman, and that's it.