This ink-stained wretch tends to long for an earlier time in the trade


I have had a few addictions in my life; some of them unhealthy, and others rather fun and frolicsome. Blessedly I have steered clear of hard drugs, and I am thankful for that. I have worked professionally with junkies. It’s a brutal curse. As for my other addictions through the years, I won’t elaborate extensively.

I used to drink a whole lot. Now I don’t at all and haven’t for nearly 20 years. I used to smoke heavily. Booze is much easier to give up than nicotine. And I used to be a bit indiscriminate with liaisons. No longer do that. I value my marriage and the choice I made. And the choice she made.paperboys newsboys

Oh, there are others, too. Bacon and little devilled eggs are right up there along with the dessert section at a buffet, watching reruns of NCIS

and needing to find something to read while on the john. Don’t you just hate it when you need the facilities at another’s home and there is nothing to read but the labels on shampoo bottles?

And, one addiction has never waned, and that is for newspapers. I can go through withdrawal if I don’t have newspaper access. When we travel I must find the local newspaper of note just so I can keep up with what is what wherever I might be. The most fun paper was the local rag on Rarotonga. Correspondents would have vicious arguments in the letters section; really libellous accusatory stuff. I regretted that I couldn’t read the ones that were written in Maori in this bilingual paper. I bet there was some really snarky stuff press

The most newspaper-oriented place in which I have ever lived was the UK. That was just one of the reasons I loved writing a column there. I mean, I got so many responses to my stuff because folks read me. I was invited to speak at various functions and for different groups and my column enable me to meet a plethora of nice people there. It made me feel I ‘belonged’ in that far-away place.

It actually amazes me in retrospect that in those days I had the creative mojo to turn out two columns a week for that paper, the Great Yarmouth Mercury (while having to remember the niceties of different language usage in the UK, such as ‘curb’ there is spelt ‘kerb’) as well as two columns per week for my home paper in the Comox Valley as well as a number of freelances for the Vancouver Sun, which had given me a guarantee they would run anything I sent them. marcrar

Newspapers have become a rather sorry lot in recent years. The quality of reportage has waned, the great columnists have gone by the way, either via retirement or death, and they have, and I hate to say it, become boring. It’s easy to blame the tech revolution for this, and it has a role in that young people didn’t grow up with newspapers as we did, but that is not the only reason. Blame corporate attitudes if you will, because you must. Vancouver, for example, has two daily papers, the Sun and the Province and both are owned by the Postmedia Group. There was a day when those papers would engage in vicious gut-fights as each tried to scoop the other. Ah, them were the days.

And what is the case in Vancouver applies elsewhere. Los Angeles – huge LA – has only one daily paper. Seattle has two, but the old Post-Intelligencer is now electronic, with only the Times remaining.

So yeah, tech is one reason. The other is cost. Cost of newsprint, cost of unionized employees, cost of technology, etc. Etc. Etc. It breaks my heart, it does.

For me, I just keep turning out blogs like this because I must write and yet freelance markets have dried up.



16 responses to “This ink-stained wretch tends to long for an earlier time in the trade

  1. I’m so glad that you still write! Keep up the good work, and I will keep reading, happily.

  2. I second Candace…

    I worked as a freelancer for years and watched the changes you describe…Now, I blog, and keep watching bloggers disappear for the inanity of Facebook. Happy Christmas to you and Wendy.


    I am glad you keep writing. I do not like Facebook much and relatives keep bugging me to use it and not emails (my sister set it up quite a few years ago). One of my favorite reads is readers Digest. Maybe you should submit articles to them!

  4. Dear Ian, you must write and I must read, a happy balance. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Arlene

  5. Ian I would venture to say that you are a writer first and foremost and that journalism was merely a career that melded nicely with that which gave meaning to your life. Maybe it is true that all the great journalists of your/my generation are retired or dead, but I still think there are voices out there worth discovering and following. Surely they cannot all be boring?! Maybe people don’t read newspapers as much today because of corporate decisions to maximize profits that often leads to stopped presses’. But then again, many great newspapers continue to both print and have a significant digital presence. And it may also be true that people have become accustomed to snappy headlines and brief storylines. But I think it is also true that technology has provided other means, e.g.. blogging, to allow us to get the word out [as it were]. Our occupations, you as journalist, me as professor, did not define us but did provide us with previous audiences that may now be more restricted or denied to us. And so we adapt -we blog because we want to continue that which truly gives meaning to our lives – thoughts and ideas and the need to express ourselves and in so doing, share with others. I would say keep writing but you don’t need any encouragement from me or anyone else for that matter – you drive yourself.

    • Actually journalism gave me a huge zest for life, Paul. I liked teaching well enough, but I daresay I truly loved journalism. Thank you for your well stated thoughts and it is so nice to have reconnected with you.

    • Actually journalism gave me a huge zest for life, Paul. I liked teaching well enough, but I daresay I truly loved journalism. Thank you for your well stated thoughts and it is so nice to have reconnected with you.

  6. I think RD mainly picks up items from other publications. Meanwhile, I do FB as well as blogging. FB is fun and silly and I quite like it. Happy Christmas to you, Rose

  7. “When we travel I must find the local newspaper of note”. Ian, I’m the same. I’m an old newspaper hack and it’s sad to see so many papers close. But that’s the way it is. I feel very lucky that I got to be a reporter on many local newspapers for some years before moving to The Dark Side as a sub-editor and ending up working for The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Express, The Guardian and, in Paris, The International Herald Tribune. But they ain’t what they were. Oh well. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to a fellow journo. And keep writing your excellent blog. I don’t often comment nowadays but I always read it.

    • We indeed empathize as scribes must. I am highly flattered by your compliments, Julian, especially considering the breadth of your career. As for the Herald Tribune, I don’t believe it exists any longer, or so I had heard. Bon Noel to yoyu and toute la famille

  8. No, Ian, you’re right – it’s now the International New York Times. I still have some American friends who work for it in Paris but, apparently, it’s a ghastly and sad newsroom nowadays.

  9. Thank you for keeping up with the writing Ian. Actually, La Presse, one of Montreal’s three French dailies stopped printing on January 1st (except for the Saturday edition) and has gone completely digital. I read it much more often since it went digital as i find it much less of a hassle to read. Especially in public transportation 😉

    I guess Montreal is strange then in that it has four dailies, one of them English.

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