Monday, July 17, 2006

The Power of Ink and Paper

It isn't the magnitude of an event that makes it news; it's the people reporting it.

That's what my grandfather always said. "Jared," he'd say, "The world's best golfer could be some Eskimo in Alaska, whacking a snowball with a stick. Big news, right? Wrong! Not unless some reporter finds him, and writes a story. Then it's news." He ended every conversation on the topic with the same line: "There's no greater power than that which is generated by the combination of ink and paper."

Grandfather started the Kanner Lake Times in 1944 and ran it with the enthusiasm of Wily Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. It didn't matter to him that not much interesting happened in Kanner Lake. The way Grand-dad reported things, every pie bake-off and fishing tournament was big news. He had a way of getting people excited about things that weren't exciting. He certainly got me excited. At eight years old, I could hardly wait to start working on the paper. Actually, I couldn't wait, so I started my own.

The first and only edition of The Moore Monthly, came out in November 1944. I'd written my newspaper on notebook paper, then painstakingly copied it over and over fifty times (that was in the day before Xerox machines). A lot of work for a kid, but I didn't care. I'd be making ten cents for every paper I sold, I hoped.

It was a nice little paper, considering it had an editor with a second grade education. I started with what I knew. Made a comic strip about my dog, Elmer, in which he stole a hot dog off the grill. The thought-bubble above his head said, "It really IS a dog-eat-dog world." I cheated on the weather report, copying information out of the real newspaper. Since all newspapers have obituaries and I didn't know anyone dead, I wrote a nice little piece about my friend Tommy's goldfish, Speckle, who'd recently taken a tragic suicidal leap from his bowl. I covered every inch of Kanner Lake on my ten-speed, seeking out news and scribbling any interesting tidbit I could find in a little red notebook. My paper had stories about the Anderson's new kittens, the big fish a fifteen-year-old kid named Wilbur Hucks caught that weekend, and the mysterious damage to the stop sign at the corner of Barley and Hillwood Roads.

All of that would have been fine, but I didn't stop there. I'd heard Grand-dad say that you could always count on politics to fill up blank space. He'd also told me that a good reporter always looked for a unique angle--something other people didn't know. That's why I finagled a sleepover at Martin Pulaski's house. His dad, Martin Sr., was running for mayor. I figured I'd watch and listen closely to find out some little known fact about Mr. Pulaski, and I'd have my politics column. Too bad I didn't know enough to refrain from publishing the fact that Mr. Pulaski wore a toupee and enjoyed watching General Hospital every day.

My papers sold out in one lunch period and I made a killing, but once my customers brought them home and they fell into their parents' hands, I was in big trouble. Mom shut down my business, and Mr. Pulaski blamed me for his landslide loss in the mayoral race. To his dying day, he scowled at me whenever I met him on the street.

Ah, the power of reporting.

Since then I've learned a thing or two about the paper business. As owner of the Kanner Lake Times, I'm living my dream. I'm appreciative of Bailey asking me to be a part of this blog. It'll be great to work with the Java Joint gang, and it'll be a nice change to be able to write something besides objective journalism. Maybe I'll throw in my opinion now and then or even subject you all to my amateur poetry.

Signing off,

Jared Moore

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM

The wife and I are driving up from Seattle next weekend for my niece’s wedding. I’ve worked for a half dozen papers myself. It would be fun to swap stories over a cup of coffee.
Posted by Anonymous Curm : 11:36 PM
Hey Jared,

Great to see you posting. I just love reading the Kanner Lake Times each week. You do a fantastic job with that little paper.
Posted by Anonymous Kanner Lake Resident : 2:49 AM
You sound like a true newspaperman, all right. It's great to hear about a kid being born with a natural bent. Glad to hear you've spent your life pursuing it.
Posted by Anonymous fred wiley : 8:10 AM
My uncle and my grandfather both were journalists. Writing and English literature have always been important in our household. I appreciated your story very much.
Posted by Anonymous elizabeth monty : 8:12 AM
I always did like a newspaperman to tell it like it is. To my way of thinking, Martin Pulaski didn't deserve that mayorship in the first place. General Hospital, land sakes. Imagine if he'd run your town that way.
Posted by Anonymous r,j. hager : 8:14 AM
Thanks for the support folks! Remember to give me a call whenever you've got a story that needs reporting.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 6:04 PM
Great bit of detective work, Jared. The mayor might have scowled but the general population appreciated the good laugh after reading about the mayor's, uh, habits.
Posted by Anonymous Florence Kingsley : 6:13 PM
Ah, the old goat deserved to lose that election. He'd been hanging on too long as it is. The power had gone to his head and made him think he owned Kanner Lake.

Don't you let him give you any grief, Jared.
Posted by Blogger Ane Mulligan : 6:41 PM
Looking forward to the poetry!
Posted by Blogger Gina Holmes : 6:51 PM
Loved the post!
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 7:30 PM
Jared, I seem to remember a few more of your newspaper reports that got you in trouble, but I won't remind the guilty of their crimes *she said laughing behind her hand*
Posted by Anonymous darla bloom : 8:46 PM
Enjoyed the post and I look forward to reading more from you. Any copies still around of that paper you did as kid? Would love to see what your writing looked like.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 9:25 PM
Great post!
Posted by Blogger Kelly Klepfer : 5:35 AM
All that and poetry too? I can't wait.
Loved the post.

BTW, does the Kanner Lake Times send out to people out of town, like the Wall Street Journal? I sure would like a subscription.

This is one of my favorite blogs. Thanks Bailey!
Posted by Blogger Pammer : 8:34 PM
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