Wednesday, December 2, 2009


While the boss is out of town on his honeymoon, the production of the newspaper is in the hands of the printing company. My job during this three-week period is just to deliver the papers to the various newspaper boxes and stores.

I made the drive out to the printer's yesterday morning, out to the stark, golden island of Samoa -- a place that's remote and empty except for the strikingly horrible industrial buildings and factories that rise up out of the grassy dunes and mar the horizon.

To illustrate, here are some photos I took of Samoa in 2008.
I was feeling glad to be out on a non-intellectual errand like paper delivery, something straightforward and finite accompanied by my choice of music and a warm beverage-- a nice break from teaching and research.

I was listening to "Little Sister" by Dwight Yoakam, feeling good, determined, and capable, when I pulled into the industrial "park" where the paper gets printed. I pulled up to the back loading dock to grab the stack of newspapers.

Only to find this screaming headline, above the fold in all caps: "SHERRIFF'S SEIZE 17 POUNDS OF POT."

My heart sank in disappointment. Aside from the obvious misspelled word and the apostrophe inserted in a plural, there is only one sheriff in this county, and his minions are called deputies. These are mistakes a monkey would not have made.

It was such a humiliating experience delivering these papers all over three towns, filling up machines with them, walking into stores carrying an armload of them.

Nevermind that on the masthead inside, my name is listed as assistant editor.

I can't help but wonder: what sort of business allows people who are semi-literate to have anything to do with the publication of the written word?

I had to give myself the following pep talk about 20 times:

It's newspaper; it's fleeting; mistakes happen and if no one gets hurt by them, you just look forward to doing better next time. And if someone does get hurt, you just apologize or print a retraction. You don't dwell on mistakes in the newspaper business because they happen and that's just the way it is.

But it was appalling.

I (almost) hated to blare my loud alt country lest I seem like an illiterate hick (I did it anyway).

On the bright side, at the end of my appointed rounds, I was fortunate enough to see this sunset.


Kristabel said...

I'm cringing with you. xo

Vista de Peyote Cafe said...

oh man, i feel for you!

hey remember the old days? driving up hiway 101 brainstorming the name of a new local paper, coming up with The Independent? and here you are still in the news biz...

Indie said...

Kristabel, thank you! I will always be a little traumatized by the word "sheriff" from now on.

Vista, I can remember the exact moment. Yep, still in the biz.

Anonymous said...

Those are very pretty pictures too! Beautiful