A Newspaper Published By The Illiterate
HERE IN BEAUTIFUL TERRE HAUTE(That’s French for, “This will be on the test.”) we are blessed/cursed with a newspaper that is unclear on the concept of literacy.
The Tribune-Star publishes seven days a week – whether you like it or not. Most days it is “Not.”
A week before we flew to Texas to spend Christmas with The Family I called the “Trib-Star” to have delivery stopped while we were gone. It’s a good idea and shouldn’t be too difficult a task. SHOULDN’T BE.
When we returned home late on New Year’s Day what did my bleary eyes behold but a week’s worth of newspapers strewn across the front lawn. How nice. Why not put a sign on the lawn telling every Meth Head in town that we‘re gone.
I gathered up the newspapers – most of which were soggy messes, and put them in a plastic bag from Kroger’s. I had plans for them.
This morning I went down to the Trib-Star offices with my bag.
At the reception desk I asked to speak with someone from their circulation department. The receptionist, a fellow named Kyle, was dressed like he had just sat down there to catch his breath after making the beer delivery.
Kyle said that he was with the circulation department. I believed him – why not? I explained my concern about my bag of soggy Trib-Stars. His response was, “Well, that shouldn’t happen.”
“I already know that, Kyle.”
I went on (As I am wont to do.) and said that, on the light side, the bag of soggy papers constituted littering. AND, God forbid, there would be a burglary, the things littering the lawn would open up the Tribune-Star business entity to legal action it could ill afford. Kyle looked like he was taking this personally. I’m jiggy with that.
I stressed that my problem with the newspaper was strictly about its presence and not its quality which, while a subject of widespread ridicule, was beyond my current interest. This statement made Kyle actually look up at me with a questioning look on his face. It reminded me of the look on a beagle’s face when you try to explain the Designated Hitter Rule to it.
The Trib-Star is spelling and grammar challenged. And the calendar sometimes poses problems as well. The date on the Saturday paper should have read, “Saturday, January 2, 2016. Instead it read – well, look for yourself.
There have been days with spelling errors in headlines, and story construction that read like a Middle School book report – and not one by the best student.
My favorite “Trib-Star-ism” is when a story on the front page says, “Continued on page 7” – except it doesn’t – anywhere in the paper. It just vanishes in the ether. To be fair, there have been days when the continuation of the Page One story has appeared on page 7, but on a different day. It’s like the debris from a journalistic ship lost at sea, floating with the currents and eventually making landfall.
Kyle’s look changed to “Lost in Space” when I suggested that, in their new employee orientation package, they include a copy of “Elements of Style” by Strunk and White. I was preaching to an empty choir loft.
I finished up by pleading with Kyle to actually do something about this delivery problem because we are going to be gone for seven weeks starting just after Easter.
“Oh, for that we’d put on a hard stop.”
“None of them should be that hard, Kyle, if someone here would just learn to read.”
I left my bag of soggy newspapers on Kyle’s counter. Maybe someone might notice them in a week or two.