Wednesday, March 29, 2017

End Of An Era, Or The Writing's On The Wall

On March 26, 2017, my hometown newspaper, The Evansville Courier & Press, was printed here in Evansville for the last time. 

Don't worry, Courier subscribers (all fifty of you)! The Courier's not going away just yet! From this point on it'll now be printed in Louisville, Kentucky, which is about a hundred and twenty miles away from Evansville. Yes, that's right, from now on our newspaper will be printed in a city two hours away by car, three if you count the time zone change.

Obviously this is being done as a cost-saving measure, to save the company fifty or sixty cents a week, and to please the all-important shareholders.

I'm sure nothing will ever possibly go wrong with this new printing plan. There'll never be any inclement weather or twenty car pileups that'll shut down the highway between Louisville and Evansville. The newspaper will arrive right on time day in and day out!

I actually worked for the Courier from 2001 (right after 9/11, in fact!) until I was unceremoniously laid off in 2008. It was a terrible period of my life, filled with crushing deadlines and horrible working conditions, in which each day was literally a little bit worse than the one before.

Allow me to share the story of the day I realized I needed to get out of the newspaper business. On January 2, 2006, there was a coal mine explosion at the Sago Mine in Sago, West Virginia (where else?). The blast trapped thirteen miners deep underground as rescue workers scrambled to save them. 

Over the course of two days, the mining company drilled a small shaft down to the mine to try and detect signs of life. Sometime around 11 pm on the second day, mining officials announced they'd heard sounds coming from the shaft. The miners were still alive!

Unfortunately a few hours later (around 3 pm), they discovered they were in error, and twelve of the thirteen miners were actually dead. Tragic.

I went in to work the next day and was horrified to see that our front page read, "THEY'RE ALIVE!!!" in gigantic fifty point text. We actually sent that headline out to thousands of homes around town, despite the fact that it wasn't true, and was proven false minutes after it was printed. 

That's the day I knew I was working for the equivalent of a horse and buggy factory, and needed to start looking for a new job. It's impossible for newspapers to respond to late-breaking news the way other mediums, such as TV and the internet can. And there never will be.

This printing change doesn't quite signal the death of The Courier & Press, but it can't be far off. Its loved ones are definitely sitting in the funeral home office, leafing through coffin catalogues (how's that for a metaphor!).

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