“Pride. Pride is a weakness.” — Benjamin Martin, “The Patriot”
• • •
Every Thursday, I go through this.
I wake up in the morning, climb out of bed, fill my belly with a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and 24 ounces of Green Mountain Coffee and I sit down to put together the Wilton Villager Sports Section, one of the weekly newspapers put out by the publishing company I work for.
Nine years ago, when I first relocated to Connecticut from my native land, I turned the Wilton Villager from just another weekly into what I truly felt was probably the best weekly newspaper in the state.
Yes, that’s my ego talking. I might have been a lousy husband, a lousy lover and a lousy friend, but I’m a fucking great journalist who has worked his ass off for three decades, doing what was best for my profession and my readers and I’m pretty damn proud of that.
As part of my growing the Wilton Villager Sports Department’s coverage, I founded and began what was called, “The Warrior Nation Sports Blog” which took on a live of its own around the town, an extra to the four broadsheet pages I was given to cover the town’s sports scene like it had never been covered before.
I was kicking ass, taking names (and reporting on them, literally) and the readers were either loving it or hating it, which is exactly what a newspaper is supposed to do.
Today, I open the pages of that same newspaper and I look at what I have and what I’m putting into it, and my heart sinks.
So much is being left out because those four broadsheet pages that I once received are now limited to four or five tabloid pages. By the time you lay in the ads — which granted is all that’s left of a newspaper’s livelihood — I barely have four tabloid pages as my disposal, which is about half of what I had to fill about nine years ago.
Some journalists would be happy to do half the work and get paid the same amount of money. Sadly I know too many of those.
Needless to say, I’m not one.
The Warrior Nation Sports Blog was also destroyed by somebody’s — ahem — “bright” idea on how to make things better; even though it was so obvious that the decision was so wrong right from the get go.
The blog had a personality of its own — it was the second-most read online entity we had — and this person’s mind-numbing decision to make a change wiped out everything I had worked on. Literally, it’s gone forever, even from the Internet.
We’ve tried time and time again to kick start the blog, but it’s been slow-going for reasons I can’t really comprehend because that’s not my department.
I want it to be what it once was, but that’s never going to happen. I want the Sports Section to be what it once was, too, but that’s never going to happen either.
Like every passing year of my life, it’s gone forever.
So I open the pages and I feel sorry for the people of Wilton, who aren’t getting what they paid for anymore. Thankfully, this weekly newspaper is free and mailed to everybody in town.
Every Thursday, as I start to put this newspaper together, a depression washes over me to the point where I really feel it, where I really feel how bad and how sad this newspaper industry has become.
What was once so great, I’m now almost embarrassed to put out. And facing the townsfolk who remember what once was is always so tough, having to explain to them why stories aren’t getting in the paper anymore.
They were used to getting top grade scotch and now they’re getting watered down Iced Tea.
Thus, I find, pride has become my weakness.
I was so damn proud of the product I was putting out that now my hands are tied and I’m being forcefully limited to what I can do. And, I’m having a tough time dealing with doing less.
Thus, I vent.
I’m sorry, Wilton. I’m sorry I can’t do better for you and your athletes.
Damn my pride.
And damn Thursdays.