Finally, the Truth (kinda)
by H. Jay Dubya, III
COLUMBIA, 3/28/16 (Op Ed) --
I know what you're thinking. What the hell is he
The whole thing started a couple weeks ago when Andy (my formerly loyal and loving son) came into my office hinting strongly that we should end our print edition.
"Put it out of its misery" I think is how he put it.
As my loyal readers know, our print edition is the jewel in a publishing crown
that includes a VLPP (very large printing press); a fleet of diesel-guzzling semis; and a couple big buildings that take up our share of the Sharp End (the old black business district
lost to a media-friendly bout of eminent domain).
Needless to say, the print Trib will be alive as long as I am. And I plan to live for another hundred years
(more on that later).
I decided to forget about Andy's childish lapse until I heard buzz around the office that we were "seriously considering" doing what sooo many other print newspapers
have done: ending our over 100-year print newspaper
in favor of all this digital crap.
So I went down to Jimmy's office (my loyal managing editor), peered in over my eyeglasses, and invited myself to sit down. He was on the phone badgering some guy with the Missouri Ethics Commission to give us a quote of whitewash
for the "Skip Walther
failure-to-register-as-the-lobbyist-we-all-know-he-is" stink (a story we were -- once again -- playing catch up on
Andy slinked by in the hallway. I sat there doing a slow burn.
"So can't you just say the law is vague and murky?" Jimmy asked the guy.
"C'mon, Jim. You know we can't render an opinion without a formal complaint." The MEC guy's voice was so loud, I could hear it over the receiver. That's right -- the LAND LINE. I still have a dial phone in my office. Don't laugh. It never runs out of charge.
"But it's the Skipper," Jimmy told the MEC guy. "You already know him from that other lobbying complaint!
I leaned over, pressed down on two small buttons most young folks have never seen before, and ended the call. "Caitlin,"
I said. That meant what it always means -- never waste precious editorial time on anything you can hand off to a reporter.
So Jimmy hangs up and I get straight to the point. "What the f--- is all this talk about ending the print edition?"
"Ending the print edition? Who said that?"
"It's going around."
Jimmy then proceeds to hem and haw and hoot and holler like I've never seen. His head started glistening with perspiration. I knew then a coup was afoot, with my URL-and-pixel-loving son leading the charge.
Next thing ya know, I'd be locked out of my office and The Tribune's View
-- aka City Hall's marching orders -- would be no more, replaced with some half-baked, touchy-feely, metrosexual
"can't we all just get along" crap.
What to do? "Call Bobby" was the first thing I thought of. Bob is one of my closest friends, a fellow Town Boss
, and a no-bullshit company tyrant who wouldn't tolerate even the faintest suggestion that the "end of print" was near (he runs a big textbook outfit. And you know how much textbooks cost.)
"Fire their asses!" he told me. "Every damn one of 'em."
"And then what?"
"I know, I know. Not realistic. So do the next best thing. Go over to the dark side and start telling the truth."
"Yes. The Columbia Heart Beat."
"The Columbia Heart Beat? You've had some crazy ideas...are you out of your mind...!"
"Look on the bright side," Bobby said. "You'll never have to worry about them ending their print edition."
The idea made a kind of twisted sense. What a knife in the heart it would be to that smallish group of convergence
Mere mention of that organization -- I mean, this organization -- within an 8-block radius of the Trib meant permanent banishment. "Local blogger
" was as much as we allowed anyone to say -- or write
"I get the 'write for the Heart Beat' angle," I told Bob. "But telling the truth???!"
"In for a dime," he said. "You could start with a column about Daryl Dudley
. That he really IS out of the 4th Ward Council race
. That people would be idiots to vote for him, after that $60,000 donation disclosure meltdown."
"But Matthes said..."
"Forget Matthes! How much more do you need to do for him
? He got his 15% raise!"
"Okay. But then what? I need ideas here," I said. "The truth is new territory."
"You could call Pat Fowler
the 'most eloquent and engaged voice in the historic preservation community, and an LWV Outstanding Citizen of the Year
to boot' instead of -- what did you call her?"
"A 'volunteer scrounger'
. Now that you mention it, I do feel a tad ashamed."
"A volunteer scrounger who's finally spending her time *wisely*, cleaning up 'abandoned trash'
instead of criticizing -- us! Shame on you! -- I think."
Bob was right. So here I am.
Don't tell Jimmy, or Andy, or especially Vicki (my wife), but I'll be telling Heart Beat readers how I really
feel. And until they lock me out, I will continue writing my not-exactly-truthful marching orders for the Trib's PRINT EDITION.
I don't care if they publish me online anymore. Don't get that many "likes" or re-Tweets anyway.
Now get outta my office! I have some endorsements
to write (Mayor Walther -- you better believe you'll be thanking me later!)
-- H. Jay Dubya, III is the pen name of The Real Fake Hank Waters, publisher emeritus yet chief editorialist of Columbia's *print* newspaper of record.