Danny Tyree: The newspaper that never was
Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2023
National Newspaper Week (Oct. 1-7) compels me to acknowledge my journalistic catastrophe of fifth grade.
Based on my passion for reading Nashville’s two dailies, Miss Bunch handed me the plum assignment of launching a newspaper for our class.
I joyously composed articles of my own and proofread the contributions of classmates.
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Alas, my mechanical ineptitude reared its ugly head and for the life of me, I couldn’t operate the mimeograph! So the project died without its first issue hitting the streets (er, aisles).
(My klutziness didn’t stop there. I couldn’t master the intricacies of a paperclip until junior high. And I didn’t learn to snap my fingers until I was taught by a girl I briefly dated in college. How appropriate! Because just like that – SNAP! – she apparently went into the Witness Protection Program.)
I don’t know that our newspaper would have changed the world, but I can’t help feeling melancholy about “the road not taken.”
Even a small class has its cliques and introverts, so we moved on to sixth grade still blissfully ignorant of many strengths and weaknesses of our peers.
Perhaps a poem or a joke or an opinion published in the ill-fated newspaper would have made us see each other in a different light. Who knows what new lifelong friendships might have been formed?
Maybe a “What I did on my summer vacation” essay would have inspired readers to travel to exotic places or do charitable work.
Considering five decades of classmates’ relocations, spring cleanings and house fires, I have no illusion that abundant copies of the periodical would have remained in existence.
But the few that survived would be such a priceless time capsule – offering contemporary accounts of who actually won the (foggily remembered) big game and preserving a wealth of slang, fads and predictions of which classmate would eventually become Mrs. David Cassidy.
The issues would be treasures to share with grandchildren. (Our staff artist wound up having 12 children, so if the newspapers weren’t already falling apart…! Truth be told, I had a secret crush on her. 12 children! I didn’t just dodge a bullet; I dodged the Manhattan Project!)
Some of the class members are deceased, so this supplement to our group photograph would be something to cherish.
Equally poignant, one of the classmates suffered a head injury a few years ago and remembers nothing of his school years. He wasn’t exactly the sentimental type, but still… he would have options.
The lost opportunities of that long-ago newspaper fortify my belief in the importance of newspapers in 2023.
Yes, our fifth-grade class learned to think globally, but we tried to appreciate our immediate surroundings.
Nowadays, social media encourage citizens to become hyper-focused on a particular hobby and to consume “news” and opinion from a super-narrow sliver of the political spectrum.
Newspapers are produced by professionals who strive to present a wide range of activities, opportunities, problems and solutions that you might not stumble across if left to your own devices.
Yes, chat with a video-game player from half a world away. Listen to a podcast by pundits who share your worldview.
But keep local newspaper subscriptions “top of mind” when pondering gifts for the people in your life.
Even a fifth-grader could tell you that sometimes your neighbor really is the person who lives a few blocks away.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”