I made a friend the other day, though I wish I had caught his name.
Two of us from the paper were in Blue Springs as the Fall Fun Fest got underway. We did a Facebook Live event to let people know the when, where, and what’s to eat. We did the same for Santa-Cali-Gon Days, the Grain Valley Fair and the Independence Uncorked. There are far worse ways to spend part of a pleasant September afternoon.
Yes, it’s true that I got into this crazy business so I could be a hidebound print person. Specifically a copy editor “toiling in anonymity,” as the phrase used to go.
Those days have been over for some time. We do two or more Facebook Live chats a week, on location, and we tweet and all that other good stuff. Newspaper folk are by nature and by training reluctant to be the story – or, heavens, be in front of a camera – but the world has changed. So Twitter shows a little of our personalities. Facebook Live shows we can be articulate, or sometimes not.
Whether or not it’s comfortable, we know that readers do like to learn a little about the person behind the byline, so it’s good. (Look for us on Facebook at 2:30 p.m. Friday from the new event space at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence.)
We did the Fall Fun Fest chat and then set to the next task: Find lunch, find a shady spot to sit and eat.
A gentleman sat down on the other bench. We chatted.
He moved here recently from California. He does chaplaincy work. He really likes Missouri.
And what do you do, he asked?
I’m the editor of the local newspaper.
Really? There is still such a thing around here?
Five days a week.
Awesome. I’ll subscribe today.
Well, thank you, sir. It makes a difference.
See, I told you I made a new friend.
Newspapers are still what academics used to call “mass media” before this current era of everything media – mass media, micro media, niche media, whatever. And we are more data-driven than ever. But the one-on-one conservations with readers still provide some of the best feedback.
I stopped the other day at Starbucks, the company that once understood that coffee and newspapers go together very nicely. But Starbucks has now stopped selling newspapers.
The empty rack stood there near the door.
Knowing full well the question was far above his pay grade, I asked the barista what the plan was for the rack.
Wish I had an answer, sir.
It’s a sad day for the country, my young friend.
Jeff Fox in The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6365. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.