Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Change of routine means the news isn't getting through

A part of my daily routine has been interrupted, and frankly, I don’t like it.

I am a creature of habit, and when something happens to cause a change in my habits, I get a bit grumpy. And other people notice it.

I don’t like being grumpy. I would rather be happy. Or sleepy. Or even dopey. Or sneezy. Let us leave Doc and Bashful out of the conversation. We are talking about serious stuff here.

One of my daily habits in recent years has been to read two newspapers, cover-to-cover. I do this by holding the newspapers firmly in both hands and modulating from the front to the back.

Sometimes I save the sports sections for last, as in having dessert. But I read only two papers because I don’t have time to read three papers and still do everything else I have to do.

Oh, there was a time when I read five papers every day. But that was back when you could get five papers delivered to your front step, or driveway, as it were.

I read five because I was afraid I might miss something important — especially something local.

But three of them are now nowhere to be found, and although I miss them, there is nothing I can do about it.

First, the Cleveland News disappeared. I really miss that paper. It had a great sports section, and I especially liked Ed Mcauley and Ed Bang. And Howard Preston, the Man in the Grandstand.

I read the News lying on my stomach in the living room, usually at dinner time. My mother and grandmother had a terrible time getting me to the table for dinner because I was busy reading the News sports pages.

I don’t recall that my father and grandfather ever gave me a hard time about coming to the table, but the two ladies sure did.

The next paper to go was the Cleveland Press. It was a well-written, well-edited paper and the bosses there reached their hooks into The News-Herald on a regular basis to grab off a reporter, which it could do because the downtown paper could afford to pay them more than we could.

When the Press folded, we hired three of its best people who were left without jobs. The best of the bunch, Bob August, worked here a long time. He was a true wordsmith who had his roots in sports but who later started writing a general interest column.

And it was a bell-ringer, an award-winner that made me proud to be associated with him.

The area’s papers kept disappearing. Next to go was the Painesville Telegraph. It disappeared because we purchased it and, after a short period of time, ceased its publication.

So now I was down to reading two papers a day – The News-Herald and The Plain Dealer. I still read The News-Herald seven days a week, as you might imagine, but now The Plain Dealer doesn’t deliver the paper seven days a week any longer.

The owners expect me to read it on a computer three days a week, and that will never happen.

Reading a paper on a computer is something I will never do. I would rather watch a re-run of a Mel Brooks movie than read a paper on a computer.

You may have a different approach. It may not bother you to read a paper on a computer. And frankly, I am grateful to the many people who read this column on a computer, because that is the only way they can get it.

To the good people in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Mexico and South America who read this column on a computer I say, “Thank you very much. God bless you.” But that is not the way I prefer to read a paper.

When people ask, “When did you start working at The News-Herald?” I tell them, “1941.”

The paper was printed two days a week at that time — Tuesdays and Fridays. I delivered it on the lakefront, mostly in the Arrowhead area. I collected six cents a week from my customers.

Then it went to three days – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. By the time I graduated from college and started working here full-time as a reporter, it was being published five days a week.

I think it was when I was in the Army, 1953-54, that the Saturday paper was added. I became the editor in 1967, and in 1973 the Sunday paper was first published.

So there you have it. We are still home-delivered seven days a week and The Plain Dealer, as of last week, is delivered three or four days a week, depending on how they define Saturday.

I think we’ve got them on the run. Another year or two and we may be the only daily paper home delivered in Lake County.

And that will free up a lot of my time in the evenings to watch the Indians. Please, I don’t want to stop at a gas station on the way home to buy a paper three days a week.


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