Friday, April 3, 2015

A change in the air

Friday, April 03, 2015

The rain brings warmth instead of cold, a complete reverse of seasons that finally has allowed winter to let loose its grip on my world.
Normally, I would have walked in – the way I did earlier this week when the season still hadn’t completely changed – but Friday (good or bad) is production day for me, and I had to hurry into the office to finish up.
The world, of course, has changed.
Yesterday, Chris from the Bayonne office, retired – thus removing one more tie to the old paper before our chain purchased it.
The old paper started back in 1978 – just about the same time I decided to give up on a possible career as a musician and focus on what I did best – writing. The owner had come over from the daily newspaper that had an even longer history, but had been demolished in the corporate takeover that left only one daily with almost no interest in Bayonne.
His was an advertising vehicle with a ton a press releases and an occasional story.
But it thrived, because somehow it had managed to tap into the community in a way other weeklies I worked for over the years could not.
Chris wasn’t there from the start.  She started in 1988.
When our paper took over that paper in 2004 and I was assigned to cover Bayonne, the paper still had a number of people who had started with the original owner. But over the last decade, they wandered off one by one, leaving Chris as the last of the old timers.
Seeing her leave is like seeing the final end of the old paper – even though when I spoke with her this week she felt that I had become part of that tradition, too, bringing to the paper in the community what it had lacked in its own vestige.
“If you were to move down here and run for office, you could get elected,” she told me. “People respect you here.”
This is the Walter Cronkite syndrome. Do an honest job reporting and people may come to respect you.
I wouldn’t run for office here, there or anywhere. But it was nice to hear.
Since 2004, however, much of my job has been documenting a change in the city. I didn’t understand that the paper itself would change, and thus, so would I.
The move from the old office to the new office down there was traumatic, since it severed an important connection we would never regain.
I left after ten years covering that beat because it was time to move on, although I go back once a week just to work there.
But with Chris leaving, it won’t be the same.

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