If you don't know by now, my blog has gone viral and is now a part of the ... Huffington Post.
No, just kidding.
I am, however, offering a regular commentary for the Tuscarawas and Holmes Bargain Hunter publications. The first one, an introductory piece, was published today -- Friday -- in the Tuscarawas County edition. The Holmes County edition is published on Mondays.
The strategy of Graphic Publications Inc. is to put a copy of one of their publications into the hands of people who want it. So, sometime ago, it requested readers to return cards that indicated their preferences. If you didn't do that, you can still get on the mailing list by doing one of three things:
-- Fill out a form on Graphic Publications' website.
-- Call the Dover office at (330) 343-4377.
-- E-mail Graphic Publications' Managing Editor Ann Swinderman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In fact, Ann tells me that even someone who lives out of the area can receive a copy if they request to be put on the mailing list. I think this is a terrific idea because it's free to the reader, who can still get ink on his/her hands and line the birdcage afterward. Such a deal.
This blog lives on. There may be times that offerings here are identical to what is published in the Bargain Hunter, but I don't expect that to happen very often. Whatever is published will appear here after the Friday publication date and, of course, on the Graphic Publications' website.
Thanks to all of you who have posted on Facebook or sent me an e-mail. I really do appreciate your support.
And, by the way, I hate the overuse of the word "viral." It is now a cliche and writers should stay away from it. Mea culpa.
So, here's that introductory piece:
* * *
You’re probably thinking right now you’re seeing things.
Nope. You’re not. It’s me. I’m in the Bargain Hunter and I want to thank the good folks at Graphic Publications Inc. for reaching out. Darn, it feels good to be back in an ink-on-paper environment.
For those of you who don’t know me, I served as a reporter and editor for The Times-Reporter for 36 years and for 20 or so of those years I offered a weekly commentary on events in our community, state and world.
Much to the chagrin of the guys in the corporate offices, sometimes I said some things that were deemed too controversial. I make no apologies for that. I figured that if I didn’t say it – write it – no one else would. Only the truth was at stake and sometimes the truth hurt.
I’ve been called too Democratic, too Republican, too liberal and too conservative. I take the same view as the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd.
“I tweak power,” she said.
So do I. No one is safe.
In all the years that I wrote my weekly T-R commentary, I never encountered one reader who gave me a 100 percent score.
“I like 90 percent of your columns,” an elderly woman told me as she passed by with her shopping cart at Buehler’s. I figured that’s not bad. Ninety percent. Better than I did in high school.
I’m also buoyed that some of my commentaries live on. I did a piece on youth league baseball and softball that was published almost annually. After all, there’s always a new group of parents who don’t seem to understand the games belong to the kids.
Just a few days ago, John Jewell, an English professor at Kent-Tuscarawas, said he had students recently read a column I wrote a few years ago about the controversy surrounding “The Catcher in the Rye.” At the time, I defended the book as great American literature.
In the aftermath of the commentary’s publication, a robust online discussion ensued with terrific arguments on both sides. Love it.
Here’s the deal. If everybody nodded their heads in agreement after reading my columns, it wouldn’t take long for boredom to set in. Then they wouldn’t read at all. The trade-off is that I have to endure angry telephone calls, e-mails and letters. Oh, and occasionally, someone will try to get me fired by writing to the big guy in the corporate office.
So, why the Bargain Hunter?
Of all the current ink-on-paper publications still in existence, I believe the Bargain Hunter probably has the closest to a sustainable business model. Its editor, Ann Swinderman, gets it. She is engaging the community on Facebook and Twitter while publishing quality products on paper.
(I learned of the fire at Uncle Primo’s restaurant in New Philadelphia from an Ann Swinderman post on Facebook. She scooped everyone.)
In short, she has helped transform the Bargain Hunter from a community ad wrap to a weekly newspaper. She and her staff are accessible and the quality of their writing and presentation of content is laudable.
The Bargain Hunter’s website completes the package.
That said I don’t know how much longer print publications will be around. There is serious contraction occurring in the publishing business as advertisers seek out alternative avenues for their messages. People now head first to online sources for automobiles, real estate and jobs rather than the trusty old newspaper.
Still, I have to believe a weekly publication is a viable product today, providing better value to advertisers who want to put that picture in front of a potential customer. And the Bargain Hunter is doing a great job covering stories that otherwise wouldn’t get covered.
That’s why I’m here. Next time we’ll take a look at some issues.
* * *
As always, you can find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (dfarrell_dover). And now you can find me at the Bargain Hunter.