In the aftermath of the shooting that took the lives of several newspaper employees, including the brother of our columnist Carl Hiaasen, I went back to doing something I hadn’t done in a long time. I started buying the newspaper every single day.
There’s something about holding that newsprint in your hands, spreading it out over the kitchen table with your morning coffee (or, in my case, tequila).
My father used to flip to the back page of the Florence, Alabama Times Daily and read the paper in reverse. When I sold my first (and only) article to Mad magazine, he engineered an article about me for the Sunday edition. It was almost as exciting as when I got my hands on a copy of Mad #275, with my piece illustrated by the legendary Jack Davis.
And that check for 300 bucks was nice, too.
The local daily, based in Fort Walton Beach, has been around for as long as I can remember, and it’s only 75 cents a day, $1.50 on Sundays. If the Tom Thumb down the street is sold out, I’ll pick up a copy of the Pensacola News Journal, which is two bucks on weekdays, but Andy Marlette’s cartoons are usually worth it.
I realize everyone is super busy checking their social media feeds, but you should give it a try, whether it’s The New York Times, The Destin Log, or whatever. I will always value the print experience, even if I don’t get to crack it open til early evening. Even if all I have time for is the Jumble puzzle and Beetle Bailey.
Sure, we’re competing for advertising revenue with the Northwest Florida Daily News, and sometimes we end up running a press release or photo that appeared in their weekly version of Beachcomber. Oh, well, not the end of the world.
A couple of my dogs have been featured in the local daily’s Pet of the Day, and it still puts a smile on my face (something few people have ever witnessed).
They occasionally run columns by right wing nut job Pat Buchanan, who makes Ann Coulter look like a socialist. Some of the letters to the editor are even nuttier.
I salute all the reporters—some of whom have been pounding the pavement for decades. I have a good relationship with a lot of them (on Twitter, anyway) and have nothing but respect for their hard and often unappreciated work.
Our own Bruce Collier continues to do a fine job in his role as editor of the DeFuniak Springs Herald. I worked there over a decade ago, and believe me, it wasn’t easy. I sat through a lot of boring meetings, and I swear I stayed awake for most of them. But I’ll always value the time I got to spend with Alicia Leonard—I gave her the nickname “Scoop,” and I was completely serious about it. That woman gave it her all.
Buy a copy of the local newspaper, wherever you happen to be. Or read it for free at the library or the coffee shop. Cherish it.
- Editor Manson
The late great Cheech with Editor Manson at the 2016 Beachcomber Music Awards. Our tribute to 30A’s favorite dog appears on page 21 of the July 12-25 print edition of Beachcomber.
Photo by Rachel Anderson.