While walking the dog around the subdivision the other day, a dirty, crumpled newspaper blew out of the shrubbery to our west, dancing and darting its way across whatever little pavement is still intact on our street.
In my mind I saw not a yellowed page of newsprint, drifting along, minding its own business, but that dainty dancing white feather from the opening and ending of the film "Forrest Gump." A simple symbol perhaps of the randomness of fate and destiny cast upon the wind.
That floating, fluttering page mesmerized me. I had to catch up to it. Had to know from whence it came and what message it might bear. Especially this week, as our industry celebrates another National Newspaper Week (Oct. 7-13).
Granted, while not as romantic as a message in a bottle, the unknown factors at play here piqued my newspaper editor's interest.
Could it be a page that I created sometime in 30-plus years here at the Banner Graphic? Part of a flyer that somehow escaped the mailman on his appointed rounds? Or was it a page torn from some throwaway weekly shopper with little more than advertising to capture our interest?
Or could it be from some faraway place?
A portion of the "Great Gray Lady" known as The New York Times perhaps?
A piece of The Chicago Tribune Sunday sports section, deriding again another Bears' quarterback?
Or some decidedly less-than-romantic remnant of yesterday's Indianapolis Star (in which case I really wanted to read Bob Kravitz's column on the Colts anyway)?
Now, I really had to know, and hustled the great-sniffing West Highland Terrier we call Chopper into hurry-up mode. No sniffing every blade of grass in and around Rev. Barber's yard. No more nosing at every mailbox post along the route.
I wanted that newspaper page, and hoped some shrubbery on down the street would snag it again. As luck -- or perhaps a touch of that "Forrest Gump" fate would have it -- the wind swirled a bit and that piece of newsprint tumbled toward us, where I could stomp on it with a size 12 sneaker and keep it from blowing away or being further shredded by my attack Westie.
Holy Toledo, we realize it was part of what appeared to be the front section of the Toledo Blade, an Ohio newspaper that has been around since 1835. It seems to be from last August, back when Walmart announced it was expanding its layaway efforts for the holidays and comic Phyllis Diller had passed away.
Always something worth reading in a newspaper, you know, even if it's only part of one that looks as if it's experienced a rebirth as packing material for someone to ship something to Greencastle.
Intriguing for sure. And as we mull the fate of our nation's newspapers this week and always, let me be among the first to say newspapers are not accepting any gloom-and-doom fate others have tried to pigeonhole them into.
Community newspapers, particularly, are thriving. Where else can you get the information about communities like Greencastle, Cloverdale, Bainbridge or Roachdale if our people aren't there to report it and redirect it online as well as into a physical newspaper you can still welcome into your home five days a week?
Sure, some folks will say they prefer getting their news electronically. Via the Internet or smart phone or even TV. But I wish I had a nickel for every person who's told me they still prefer holding a printed newspaper in their hands to staring at a screen for online content. Even the smell of printer's ink can be intoxicating, or so I'm told. Try that with Twitter!
Granted, I am a little biased here. Suffice it to say, I love newspapers. Always have. Always will.
Apparently others do too. Industry figures say 101 million American adults read a newspaper in print or online every weekday. Newspaper websites reported 110 million unique visitors to their websites in August alone. And 70 percent of American adults reported reading a newspaper in the past week.
OK, maybe it wasn't the Banner Graphic or the Indianapolis Star or even the Des Moines Register that they were perusing.
Maybe it was just a page or two from a newspaper that blew into their lives for a few fateful moments like a white feather on a wisp of wind.
Regardless, holy Toledo, where would we be without a daily newspaper at our disposal?
Wherever that is, I, for one, don't want to live there.
Happy National Newspaper Week! And thanks, as always, for reading.