Confined to one sports page these days, whereas, formerly, I was granted three or four, with as many as a dozen photos (compared to two, maybe three now), I’m inclined to yearn — that’s what liberals do, don’t they? — for the old days.
The old days. When things were a tad chaotic at The Star, when the newsroom was, however, alive, if at times somewhat incoherently so, rather than the lonely place it’s become.
I’m too old not to work at the office, it’s a matter of habit — and the stairs present a body-building challenge I’m willing to undergo. If I’m at The Star, it goes without saying, I’m working. Because I’m so programmed, it’s a gray area when at home. I mean when the U.S. Open is going on and you’re writing a column on the computer, are you working? One moment yes, another moment no, I would think. Though I am relieved to recall what Val Schaffner used to say when Labor Department investigators would, on rare occasions, come by, to wit, that when you came down to it journalists worked 24/7.
Val, bless him, was the only one of us to have the nerve to lead off a story of a meeting — I forget of what body, I think it was in Southampton — by saying that absolutely nothing had happened. Whereas I always felt obliged to find something exciting to say in the lede no matter how boring what I was covering was.
So, yes, I miss the old days, when there were knock-down, drag-out fights about commas in the back shop on Wednesday nights when all of us proofread the pages on long slanted tables in front of us. Now they pop up on computer screens after bedtime. The pages were read, and then read again. (And still there were errors, journalism not being a vocation for perfectionists.) But what I’m saying is that there was life there, interaction among human beings, rubbing elbows, engaged in a collective endeavor. I don’t find that, I don’t feel that anymore. We all do our jobs, no doubt, but largely apart — sort of strange when you consider we’re a community newspaper — and in silence.