Sunday, January 23, 2011

23 JAN 11: On the Paper

Be honest now - have you ever met anyone who said he really, REALLY like his daily newspaper? I can think of a couple of exceptions. The newspaper's employees - and businesses with big advertising budgets, so they can keep the investigative reporters quiet.

SUNDAY SOAPBOX: Today we have a series of complaints about the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. The first one may be a jolt when you see it....

I want to vent my disgust with the Ledger for publishing the picture in the obituaries of what looks like a deceased child.The infant has medical equipment covering his face with tubes coming from his mouth..I'm disgusted with the Ledger for publishing the picture and more disgusted with the parent for displaying this very sick child.

Have you noticed the quality of the newsprint has changed? The pages will not fold with the creases..The corners roll down so much it is hard to hold the paper up to read..The Ledger has been in my home over 50 years and I am hurt by how much it has changed.Perhaps if they added the police blotter,marriage license applications and divorces the numbers would pick up..People like to read that kind of news

I'll get to the first "vent" a little later -- but let's focus on the materials. Could it be that Columbus actually has something worth MORE than the paper it's printed on?

Since I normally only check the Ledger-Enquirer's website, I went to a public library Friday and took a recent newspaper off the stack. Sure enough -- the top corner of page one was curling in a bit. And it did NOT appear to be a promotional stunt to bring curling to the new South Commons ice rink.

The bottom corner of page one is even worse, in terms of curling. The Columbus Public Library is climate-controlled -- so you can't blame this on the humidity in July, much less January.

But move away from the front section of the Ledger-Enquirer, and things are different. The first page of last Tuesday's legal notices was flat and fine. Of course, that could have been very different at the offices of foreclosure attorneys....

I opened the sports section of this edition, and admittedly found the crease of the pages uneven. But look on the bright side - at least this reader isn't complaining about the newspaper's ink sticking to his fingers.

So what's going on here? The Ledger-Enquirer's parent company has its own mill in Washington state for making newsprint. Maybe the trees in the Pacific Northwest had as bad a year in 2010 as the entire newspaper business....

Plenty of smaller newspapers have rundowns of marriage license applications, divorce filings, and even parents who "have named the baby." For now, the Ledger-Enquirer seems content to stick to a Sunday section of wedding and engagement announcements -- which I admittedly should check more often, to confirm who's off the market.

Let's take one other e-mail about a local institution -- the Columbus Cottonmouths:

I went to the Hockey game Friday evening and thought I could get a seat where I would liked to have watched the Game like before. I asked the window teller about where I would to purchase a seat for and she replied to me "what price range" - I said the cheapest and before I could get another word in - a ticket came out and she said $12 dollars please.

I went to find where the seat was and it was for the other side of the building, up against a concrete wall with railings on it, only could view from half to one end of the rink - come on people, is the way people are treated at the Civic Center. They tell you where you want to sit.

There were plenty of seats all around, this is complete B.S.

You have to be ready when you go to a hockey game. The action comes quickly, even at the ticket window.

Pick up any Cottonmouths schedule, and you'll find the lowest ticket price is now 12 dollars. That's for an Upper Level seat, which supposedly offers you "a great view of the entire arena." Perhaps the emphasis there is on "arena," as opposed to the ice.

Yet the Cottonmouths reported their largest crowd of the season Friday night, as 4,858 saw a 7-3 blogging flogging of Fayetteville. So what brought out the huge crowd? The annual teddy bear toss? Or "Guns and Hoses Night," with fans trying to become extra friendly toward public safety officers?

The Cottonmouths followed up Saturday night with a 6-3 lashing of Louisiana. After a dreadful 0-5-1 start to the season, the Snakes suddenly have won five games in a row and ten of their last 13. Maybe the prolonged cold weather has convinced this team it's really hockey season.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded, but you're welcome to read on for a bit more about our main topic.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: If anyone expected me to write jokes about that Ledger-Enquirer obituary, they don't know me very well. It saddens me to read about the death of a seven-month-old baby. And since the boy's funeral service occurred Friday, I didn't consider it appropriate to ask grieving relatives why they didn't have a better picture to offer the newspaper.

I read a comment Saturday night that the child's picture was "horrible and very disrespectful." That person suggested a picture could have been taken after nurses removed the breathing tubes. Perhaps so - but at that point, wouldn't the boy actually be deceased? Would that have been more fitting?

After reading the short obituary, there's much we don't know about this baby. For all we know, he could have been sick from birth -- and the picture in the Ledger-Enquirer could be the best one the parents ever had of him. If they submitted it to the newspaper, would the staff have only added to their grief and agony by turning it down?

I attended the funeral of a four-week-old "preemie" girl in 2006. Much of what I wrote then [17 Jun 06] probably can apply to this seven-month-old boy as well. If you want to express "disgust," that is your choice. I choose to offer sympathy to the family - and the hope that someday their little man will be resurrected to a much better, even eternal life.

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