Thursday, June 19, 2008


Our local newspaper let 130 people go in one fell swoop on Monday, and a good friend of mine was among them. She'll be okay--her husband has a good income, she's creative, and I know she'll land on her feet. But others among that 130 have young children to care for, and mortgages and debts to pay, gas to put in their cars, taxes, insurance . . . . what do they do? In a city with only one major newspaper (that's most cities these days!), its hard for journalists to find another job--the market is glutted. Melinda in my office pointed out that when publishers Harcourt Brace closed in Fort Worth, they unleased a whole lot of people with the same skill set on the job market. Some of them are still not working.
McClatchey, the syndicate that owns our paper, let either 3,000 or 5,000 people go across the nation. They're downsizing, saving on paper by cutting out features and all the things I want to read, plus aiming at thirty-year-olds, who aren't the people who read the paper. They want us all to read the news online, but their website is confusing and never develops stories in depth. I want that copy of the paper with my morning coffee, and slim and poor as it has become, I still read my homestown newspaper.
Marshall McLuhan predicted the end of print decades ago, and it hasn't happened in the book world. Granted we move toward digital all the time, but we'll never lose the print versions. I'm not so sure about newspapers' survival--and it saddens me. When we compiled an anthology titled Literary Fort Worth several years ago, we found that some of the best writing about our city was done by the journalists, mostly from the Star-Telegram. If anyone tries to compile a second volume ten or fifteen years from now, there will be many few writers to consider.
We had a gullywasher this morning, one of the hardest rains I've seen in a long time--and it didn't scoot on by like so many storms. It seemed to linger over us for 20 minutes or so before declining into a drizzle. The sky was dark the thunder and lightning constant. Scooby was not about to budge from his bed, and I left him for about an hour until he started to roam the house--a sign he needed to go outside. He was determined to go out the front door, which would have been folly. I couldn't hold him as scared as he was. So I dragged him bit by bit through the house, all the while whispering encouragement. Once I got him out the back door, I didn't even feed him for fear he'd ignore the food and bolt back in the house, where I can't leave him alone. I barely made my 8:30 meeting. Tonight Scoob gets double rations, though it is supposed to rain again. Other than working about the dog, I enjoy good storms. I'm sure if I were in the Midwest I'd no longer say that.
The Sisters in Crime listserv is great for learning new words and catching new phrases--I particularly liked "Only visit grown-up but stay in childhood," spoken by a man in his nineties. I think I've talked about skanky and hinky, two new words, I've learned--and then there's earworm, a name for that song that gets in your brain and won't leave. And I was particularly moved by Mario Cuomo's tribute to Tim Russert in which he said the late newscaster "regarded any day not lived with enthusiasm as an opportunity lost."
I'm on Chapter Four--almost done with it--on the first draft of my new mystery, and I'm enthusiastic!

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