Remember When…

Papers Collide: A Parable

by Josef Woodard

History writes itself on the walls and the front pages of a small coastal town on an unnamed continent.

There was once a swell-looking cat freshly loosed from college, ready to take on the world, ready to accept its praises and exact his splash upon it. He thought it would be fun to run a newspaper and, what’s more, reflect and direct the very souls of his peers. Naked, alone, blond, manly, he nailed and pasted together a fortnightly publication that would grow into something downright respectable in the community. …

Across town, another kind of enterprise was grinding its gears, already years in progress. It, too, sprouted from the efforts of eager young people with visions of Chuck F. Kane in their heads. For its founders, the straight newspaper — landlocked in its stolid holding pattern — just wasn’t doing the trick for a young new demographic. …

Many moons later, these two papers were coexisting within spitting distance of the great ocean. They searched for the pointed story, the telling phrase, and the fetching headline. They bucked for the tourist buck and the advertiser’s favor. They thumped their chests and bellowed, best, best for all to hear. By golly if this wasn’t an old-fashioned paper war carrying on in an erstwhile hamlet of tranquility! You could smell the blood and ink spilling on the streets. …

And then, alas … the two papers became one. The Russians (figuratively speaking of course) joined the Allies (figuratively speaking of course) and the fight continued together. The lamb lay down with the lion and the hopeful result was a little savage.

Are these once fierce nemeses now chucking in their towels, inquisitive minds wanted to know? Did one use bully tactics to get the other to say uncle? No, in fact, they were but tying together their towels as to — in theory, in the ideal state of affairs — compound their strength and absorptive properties. Divided they fall, but who now to fight? Why, naturally, the initially perceived foe: that institutional paper that law abiding taxpayers had been curling up with since the turn of the century. The Stalwart. The Final Word. The Dread Daily. …

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