Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ink and Paper

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

Those are the words of my wise grandfather.

Suddenly in Kanner Lake we find ourselves in a new year. Where did the last one go? In 2006 and 2007 our town saw big news--national news--happen right here. Events we wouldn't wish on any town, much less ours. We all are looking forward to a quiet 2008. As owner of the Kanner Lake Times, I'll be happy to return to reporting on everyday stories of our town. Which brings me back to my grandfather's wisdom.

"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 Granddad 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.

Signing off,

Jared Moore

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
Jared, what a way to start your career. I secretly wear a toupee. Glad I don't live near you...
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 5:21 PM
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