Thursday April 17, 2014





Rothenburger: Newspaper much more than a desk lamp

I’m reminded of the IKEA commercial in which sad music plays as an old desk lamp is taken to the curb with the trash to await a trip to the landfill. Cue the rain and wind. A voice with a Scandinavian accent chides us that we feel bad for the lamp “because you are crazy. It has no feelings.”

A daily newspaper is a business. It’s ink and paper, balance sheets and machines.

But it isn’t a desk lamp. It talks to us, nurtures us, puts us in our place when we need it (and sometimes when we don’t) and picks us up when we need that, too.

The Daily News has been a living thing for eight decades. It lives through the people who have worked there. It speaks the language of community.

I considered beginning this — probably my last column for The Daily News — by joking that it’s going to be a real problem figuring out what to write about in this space every week now that my best source of information is closing its doors.

Get it? There won’t be a space to fill.

In a similar vein, a couple of people from competing media kidded that, with The Daily News gone, they won’t know where to get their story ideas.

In the face of unthinkable events, one often searches for dark humour.  If you and I had coffee together I could tell you funny stories about reporters who misbehaved, strange encounters in the front lobby, messed up headlines. Every newspaper is an archive of such stories and we’ve had them in abundance.

Let’s leave that for another time.

When my best friend died, I delivered a eulogy. I never felt so miserable in my life as the day I stood in front of a crowd and tried to keep my composure long enough to do him justice.

There’s no way I can do justice to what The Daily News has meant to me and to so many others who got their start here, or came later in their careers and stayed. I’m not up to the task. I feel a need to say something important, but the words won’t come.

Lots is being said about lost jobs and the loss to the community, how a city needs a daily newspaper in order to be taken seriously. I agree with those sentiments.

More credit needs to be directed, though, to the people of Kamloops for giving the paper life for 80 years. After a few days of shock and disbelief, readers are talking about what The Daily News means to them.

People who grew up with the paper, who can’t imagine a day without setting aside some personal time to sit down with the sports section and a coffee. Who keep yellowed clippings of stories that touched them. People whose first job was delivering The Daily News. People who brought us giant tomato hornworms and potatoes that looked like Winston Churchill. People who came for help, and came to help.

They deserve 80 years worth of thanks.

This is nobody’s fault. Everybody worked hard, had a lot of fun, and it lasted a good long time.

There’s another piece to the IKEA commercial. The camera moves away from the old desk lamp and we catch a glimpse of a new one through an apartment window. Then the voice says, “And the new one is much better.”

I don’t believe the new normal, the one without our daily newspaper, is going to be better. I liked the old desk lamp.

armchairmayor@gmail.com

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