My career of editing newspapers often introduced a tension between trying to be the first to present important developments to our readers (that is, news) and their desire to have us run the olds – photos and lists of names from activities days or even weeks previous. My feeling was that their club and church items were usually of interest only to those who already knew about them – hardly the stuff of urgent news – and rarely added to our paid circulation. I’d met enough people who wanted others to read their publicity far more than they themselves were willing to extend the same courtesy to others. Put another way, if the “names-is-news” imperative had much merit, the telephone book would be much more thoroughly read than it is – and much fatter than it keeps getting in an Internet age.
More recently, though, in my retirement I’ve become involved in public events that could make the news spotlight – and haven’t, even when the TV cameras were turned on us. I’d love to show folks around me what we were up to. It’s confirmation we were there, actually. And that, I suspect, is what those readers wanted all along.
Curiously, that’s where social media are filling the gap in documenting everyday life. In the examples I’m thinking of here, the photos of us look great, for starters. The only problem, personally, is that I’m always somewhere in the corner, often cut in half. I guess it just goes with being in the bass section.
Well, maybe I could start taking selfies and posting them here. On second thought, though … I’ll spare you.
As a footnote, I’m also remembering one locality where everybody was willing to sign up for an event, especially as the committee chairman. Or more accurately, chairwoman. And as soon as the promotion announcement appeared in print, they all somehow vanished, leaving the two newcomers to the group with all the responsibility for actually pulling it off.
We never ran a follow-up to that effect, either.
One thought on “THE DESIRE FOR DOCUMENTATION … OR AT LEAST CONFIRMATION”
Very interesting, and true–and woe to the writer or editor that left out someone’s name, or misspelled it. And once the tradition of putting names in newspapers everyone wanted in…for every accomplishment. Bowling scores, scout troops, kindergarten graduations. Some of the weeklys still do that in great detail. And you’re right about who wants to be chairman, and who wants their kid to be the pitcher, and…. great article.