Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tomorrow the Reporting Class Tours the Chronicle

We've been doing this for nearly 20 years, since I came over to the university for all sorts of reasons, one of which was that I had spent six years (three of them full time) getting the darn Ph.D. back in the day, and it chapped me that it had all been a waste.

Other than self development, of course. I really did enjoy reading all those books.

In one way, taking the kids to the Chron was a little like returning to Duke, having the sense that here was something that had existed before me, that did more good than harm, that would go on doing more-good-than-harm long after I had passed.

Oh yes, the hallowed halls -- actually an open-office newsroom -- of the Chronicle. I liked to imagine a student of mine somewhere down the line working at the Chron and finding some relic of my days there, and thinking of the old man suddenly (for the first time in years really) and in some vague way being grateful -- for me, for the paper, for whatever I said that did no permanent harm.

This is not going to happen, or if it happens, it will be in a contracted space and radically altered platform laboring under a different vision and little patience for what we used to do when the Chron was a great mosaic of the good, the bad and the foolish-by-design.

The Chron was a pretty good newspaper, you know, with lots of goofy where everyone else went for stuffy and, in my opinion, all the better for the playfulness.

Then, it got serious and now it's getting steamrolled, which has nothing to do with all the rethinking that went into calming it down, which change was well underway before I left.

I used to miss the Old Chronicle, but now it looks as if I'm going to be missing the Chronicle Period. A man should not outlive his nostalgia. I think that's what I'm saying.

Postscript: Hey, look! An interactive map of newspaper woe.

1 comment:

John McChesney-Young said...

A supplement to your grim link to the WSJ chart of newspaper woe is the Twitter feed of themediaisdying. I mention this in case you're having problems feeling excessively optimistic about the future of newspapers and magazines and need a constant toll of layoffs and closures in the industry to distract you from, say, swine flu or your wife's unfortunate habit of challenging the neighbor youths to drag race.

What? She hadn't told you? Oh, I'm very sorry, E., I probably shouldn't have mentioned it, should I?