Stop the presses … literally

PAPER

The Quincy Notre Dame student section held up newspapers while the Quincy High starting lineup was announced on Saturday night.

Student sections are usually creative and entertaining. Now, it seems, they are clairvoyant.

Or maybe I am.

During Saturday night’s Quincy High at Quincy Notre Dame basketball game, the QND student section broke out newspapers to pretend to read while the QHS starting lineup was announced. It’s a traditional welcome for many student sections, reading a newspaper while acting unimpressed by the opposing team.

As I watched, I figured it was the first time many of the students had touched a newspapers in months or years. I posted the following smart-ass comment on my personal Facebook page: “Students won’t be able to do this much longer.”

My too-cute by-half-remark was taken by many friends that students would no longer be attending games because of another COVID crackdown in Illinois. Not only comments, but texts were like, “Do you know something???”

I’m good, but not that good.

As I explained on social media, I was referring to the fact that students (or anyone else) may not pick up a newspaper much longer because they won’t be available.

They won’t be available in Quincy on Sundays starting in 2022.

Pulling another day off the presses (while still charging the same amount for subscriptions) isn’t surprising. What is a little shocking is The Quincy Herald-Whig decided to stop printing a Sunday edition.

The decision to switch to mornings and mail delivery led to this inevitable conclusion, and I get it. If you’re not going to pay full-time people a decent wage to deliver your product, then this is the end result when your operation essentially hasn’t changed in 20 years, except for a massive reduction in staff and stagnation in wages and benefits.

The letter from the publisher in the penultimate Sunday edition of the old paper of record was long on excuses and there were a few observations:

  • A TV Book is still a thing? My TV screen seems to give me all the information I need these days.
  • A transition of new computer systems is to blame for the decline in the product’s quality and content? Next time I have a typo, I’m blaming my keyboard.
  • If your “number one priority” is four things, then I guess you don’t really have a “number one priority.”
  • I don’t know what “reflect the positive values of the majority” means, but ass-kissing boosterism isn’t cool, although there is a segment of Quincy’s audience that still needs this type of adoration.
  • Admitting that money from television has been propping you up for years is strikingly honest, and the statement deserves credit. However, the paper is still owned by a large corporation; it’s just no longer local.
  • Claiming to be the number one source for news and sports online…for now…maybe…although I’m sure the folks in Nauvoo appreciated the game story on the BYU-UAB football game in Sunday’s edition (pour one out for Joseph Smith).
  • Somebody should point out that there are currently five former newspaper sports editors living in Quincy. If that job was such a good one, wouldn’t one of those guys still have it? We employ two of them full-time and another part-time at Muddy River News.

The Herald-Whig might have eventually written Sunday’s mea culpa, considering the state of the newspaper industry nationwide. However, I’d like to think that the arrival of Muddy River News just accelerated the timeline. I certainly know that its previous regime would never have allowed this type of candor or hint of an admission of fallibility, so kudos for the awareness.

Muddy River News was created to fill the void left by the demise of local journalism in our community, by people who wanted to see it continue and not be outsourced or reduced. I know we are an upstart. We are still a bunch of Davids with our slingshots – well, we have at least one David – and all of the other media have been around for decades. But we have more than 200 years of newsgathering experience working at Muddy River News in some form. That has to count for something.

We thank our sponsors and those who have been patrons in our first year. We have more good things to come in 2022.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to all.

J. Robert Gough is the Publisher/General Manager of Muddy River News.

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