It's funny to me -- and by funny, I mean entertaining in a good way -- the number of people I have run into in my life, but more specifically of late, who claim to have spent a part of their childhood delivering a newspaper.
The job of paper boy (or paper girl, which, sorry, sounds weird) was for some of us our first "real" job. Our first real set of responsibilities outside of our normal around-the-house chores.
We learned how to count, collect and not steal money handed to us by older people. We learned that punctuality was important, the rose bush was not the place to throw Mrs. Mootsey's paper, the little dog on the corner had a bark worse than its bite, and rain was not our friend.
Also, your fingers get really black.
Each afternoon, the Hudson Register-Star would be dropped off in two bundles (first section and second section) at my friend Mike's house. I'd meet him there and we'd insert the back section into the front section (a job now handled by large, clanking machines that quite often get jammed and chew up a lot of newsprint).
Then we'd head out on our bikes to practice our daily ritual of responsibility, making sure the handful of papers on his paper route hit their front porches before dinner time -- during Mike Douglas, but before Merv Griffin.
Then we'd go home, wash the ink off of our hands, and go play in the dirt until dinner.
(Actually, I never played in or with dirt. Printer's ink was as dirty as my hands ever got. Bit of a candy pants in that regard. Still am. Mike, on the other hand, if I recall correctly, used to eat the stuff.)
But the paper boy -- that grand and glorious first job for many -- has since gone the way of the photography department.
I mean, wooden nickel.
Newspapering, which almost immediately, and absolutely coincidentally, began its decline as soon as I joined its ranks, has been a profession of change during my tenure. Today, it has reinvented itself to fit the needs of a rapidly changing, technologically advancing, reality TV-watching, thumb typing, sound bite-driven, iTunes-plugged, video-gaga audience.
But that's not you folks.
You folks are true newspaper-loving, nostalgia hounds who want nothing more than to come home from a hard day's work, grab the afternoon newspaper, and unwind.
We here at the 1 Venner Road world headquarters of Port Jackson Media, LLC, know this. We've heard your comments. We've appreciated and learned from every one. And we want them to continue.
And we will be doing this, come the first Tuesday in September, with the publication of The Recorder as an afternoon newspaper. It's a big step. And with your help, we're going to take it.
Those of you who responded to me when, a few weeks ago in this space, I asked for your opinions on the switch, were impressively constructive. And I can't thank you enough for that.
This is me being sincere.
We heard from both sides of the aisle -- keep it in the morning; bring back the afternoon -- and came to the conclusion that this wonderful community of ours, nestled along the banks of the moody Mohawk, is a community best suited for a p.m. publication.
(It's an industry term.)
One reason is modern gadgetry. The constant stream of flashing light and beep sounds available to us at the touch of a button in the palm of our hand has done wonders for the solitaire industry, but not so much for the newspaper sales business.
I would also imagine playing card companies have seen drop-off.
We newspapers have fought back against this drop in paper readership in a number of ways. We here at The Recorder have been on the Internet since shortly after we invented it. We have a strong presence -- and stronger following, thank you -- on the Facebook. We (and by 'we' I mean people in the Smart Department, not me personally) have developed apps for each one of our four weeklies as well as the daily paper. (Did you know you can get a beep on your phone or tablet, or an e-mail on your computer, every time there is breaking news here at The News Hub of the Mohawk Valley?)
If you said no, then you're missing the fun. And fun is still the best thing to have. You gotta get on board.
The plan here is to keep the news flowing into these computer places throughout the day -- beginning early in the morning when you wake up.
Grab your morning coffee, turn on your computer, subscribe to The Recorder, and start enjoying the timely presentation of the day's news. Throughout the day, as we compile the stories, photos and advertisements that will later on be delivered to your doorstep, we will continue to feed news into these many modern devices.
Those subscribers among you who have grown accustomed to us being around in the morning will still have access to the news that's fit to print -- as soon as we get it, you will too. Those of you who like to catch up on the goings-on in the neighborhood while relaxing in the evening will also have your wishes granted.
Thanks to technology, and the Smart Department, we are no longer bound by a 24-hour publishing cycle -- gathering everything up, piling it all into one neat collection of pages, and hitting you with all of it all at once, once a day.
Today, we can be flipping stories and photos at you like Frisbees, with great frequency and greater accuracy.
You, dear community, might not realize how important your role is in the process. You have been telling us with great frequency (and greater accuracy) just how you feel about our efforts here. And we hope this input keeps flowing.
For us to continue chronicling the history of our beautiful slice of the Mohawk Valley, we need your support. Please keep letting us know when your community events are taking place, keep sending us your wedding announcements, keep those telephone lines in the advertising department lit with the advancement of commerce, keeping this historic hometown newspaper coming off the press, day after day. You don't want to be on the outside looking in. You want to be among the trailblazers. Blaze on.
One of the highlights of 2013, when this December we pause to look back on the year, will be the local newspaper's resurrection of the paper boy and paper girl (or, publication routing specialist, if the gender equality thing gets too cumbersome) in our close and comfy community. This, in and of itself, should be reason to celebrate.
You young residents of Amsterdam and its environs who are interested in making a couple bucks, learning a valuable trade, setting your sights on a career in professional newspapering so you, too, can one day proudly proclaim that you spent your entire professional career smelling like coffee breath and catching every other typo while sticking your nose and reporter's notebook in places it does not belong ... have no idea I am speaking to you because you're off sending your equally young friends a thumb message and it's your parents who are reading these words -- come September, we will have a job for you.
And we're relying on your parents to share this information with you.
The Recorder, cherished community, which, through various sizes, frequencies, ownerships and mastheads, can trace its roots all the way back to 1833, will continue to capture this region's history and bring it to you, in a variety of forms, as we all strive to keep tightly stitched our community quilt (and our noses firmly planted in everyone's business).
But without you, we're the silent tree that falls in the forest.
And smells like stale coffee.
KEVIN MATTISON is executive
editor of The Recorder and still
loves the smell of ink. Contact him