Friday, August 15, 2008

371. Old News and New

Wednesday night’s showing of Mollie Bingham and Steve Connors’ Iraqi war documentary Meeting Resistance was quite a success. Major kudos are extended to Bruce Maples, president of the Metro Democratic Club, for putting this together – literally. He conceived the idea many months ago running it by a number of us as to whether we could pull it off. Bringing an international photojournalist and director to town, even one who calls Louisville home, was a very lofty goal and ambitious undertaking. After months of the rest of us stalling, Maples just did it. He called Ms. Bingham, told her what he wanted, and she said yes. Woohoo!

About 125 people attended the screening held at the American Legion Highland Post on Bardstown Road, many of whom weren’t members of the club. The event was financially underwritten by Congressman John Yarmuth, Louisville attorney and former Circuit Judge Michael O’Connell, Congressional candidate Heather Ryan, Carmichael’s Bookstore (celebrating “Thirty Years of Independence” as a hometown bookseller), and the Louisville Peace and Justice Coalition.

The film is an emotional look at the people of Iraq and how some of them feel about the war we in, in which we are seen as occupiers and enemies. There are scenes from several different locales and interviews with a number of Iraqis from all walks of life. The film has been met with opposition from all corners with some labeling it as un-American. After the showing, there was a Q&A session with the audience as Bingham and Connors answered a wide range of questions on the film itself, the making of the film, and the responses to the film. However, the final question of the night was not related to the film at all. Bryan Smith, who was representing cosponsor Heather Ryan, asked Ms. Bingham if, upon the presumed wide success of the film, would she consider using her fortune to come back home to buy up the Courier-Journal. The question was met with warm applause, an indication of the how many in this community (including this writer) feel about the Gannett-owned Courier, a very brief and mere shadow of the once great newspaper led by her father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Her pithy response was brief and to the point, “Print media is dead.”

Many in the house didn’t know exactly how to respond to that. We all know our own local paper is not what it once was and is likely to never be so again. But many still subscribe to it and others. The large Sunday editions of the big national papers, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and others are to be found in living rooms and coffee shops all across the Republic, some with enough paper to read all week. Then there are other alternative print media which have niches here and there such as the Louisville Eccentric Observer, or LEO.

Still, while many of us are modern-day typesetters, pecking away on a keyboard, the type we set for our epistles and tomes are read not in print but on the internet, as you are doing here. Whether on the websites of newspapers or other media, or on individual blogs like mine, lots of folks get lots of news – or would be or wannabe news – via the internet. Blogs and other e-media are the place to be when it comes to on-the-spot news. There are no “We interrupt this program . . . ” type announcements that many of us grew up with. You can set yourself up with instant news on any subject through a variety of means. Of course, if you are reading this, you already know that. Nonetheless, hearing this woman whose family name in this town means something admit to the death of print media still comes as a shock of some sort. Newspapers were one of the identifying marks of a great city (or large town, such as Louisville could rightfully be called). There was a day – probably in the 1950s and 1960s – that simply saying “The Courier-Journal” meant something to a number of people across the country and that something helped place Louisville on the grand map of the Republic.

No more. The Courier-Journal is simply a local edition of the Gannett news organ, and has grown worse each year since the demise of the Bingham media empire over twenty years ago. A time will come soon that all the Gannett papers will have the same three or four national news pages as the “Front” section, followed by local news inserts, much the same way that the current Courier-Journal treats the various “Neighborhood” sections today. They are basically the same throughout the community with one or two stories germane to the particular neighborhood section they are in and no more. It is a loss for those of us who prefer to read real news on a real page of paper, and even from time to time find that the black print has rubbed off on our fingers as we turn the pages.

That's the old news.

Here's the new news.

Baseball is in the news. Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending a Louisville Bats game with the owner of the professional baseball team in the Quad-Cities area along the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa. Dave Heller was in Louisville on other business and decided to take in a night of local baseball and I was his host. That was pretty cool. But, closer to home, that is closer than Davenport, Iowa, there is more baseball news. Six short years ago a local Little League team, Valley Sports, made it all the way to the Little League World Series - and won. I remember sitting with my friend Sherry in her living room watching the game. As I recall, there were two outs when the opposition batter hit a line drive, brought down quickly by Valley Sports' pitcher, thus getting the third out, ending the inning, and winning the Series. That was a great community booster.

Tonight the thrill is back. From across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana, the George Rogers Clark Little League team is headed for local immortality. They are starting play (at 8:00 pm) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania against a team from Hagerstown, Maryland. Stand up and cheer for these little leaguers as they put their home town and our community on the map once again as baseball standouts. Good Luck Jeffersonville.

1 comment:

Bruce Maples said...

When Nina and I moved to Louisville in 1992, my father was not very happy to have his oldest son and the grandkids move much further away. After griping about it for 30 minutes or so, he concluded "At least you're moving to a city with a great newspaper." Coming from a life-long newspaper man like my father, this was high praise indeed.

When I asked him about it later, he mentioned both the Binghams and the many Pulitzers won by the paper. He obviously admired the paper and what it was able to accomplish.

Today, my father is long gone. He died some years ago. And so did the Courier.

PS -- Thanks for the nice comments, Mr. Noble. Don't ignore your own contributions, though -- you and many members of the MDC board made it all possible, including lining up co-sponsors. I just made a phone call. :--)

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.