Nobody wants to be a hack editor like me anymore. I don’t blame them.
Once considered one of the world’s most glamorous professions, weekly newspaper hack editoring now ranks somewhere about 1,000-1/2 spots behind social media influencers, whatever they are, and adults who dress up like a cat to go get kitty litter at the Dollar General or paint themselves red and bark whenever UGA scores a TD.
There are of course myriad reasons why. Here’s a list of some.
1. There seems to be some kind of official job requirement that we aging hack weekly newspaper editors be funny looking.
What’s more, if we aren’t funny looking when we start in print journalism, we’re certainly going to be funny looking when we get near the finish line.
Granted, that’s sort of thing is no problem for rich people, who though funny looking have so much money in the bank they can get away with it.
We weekly newspaper hacks don’t have that kind of scratch. And it’s not easy going around broke, rumpled and funny looking in today’s image-conscious world full of beautiful people with natural spray painted eyebrows that last for weeks before you need a respray.
To make it even more of an uphill climb, most of us at this stage of our careers tend to look like we just tunneled our way backwards out of the wrong end of a pre-owned plastic gerbil cage and pulled the wrong somebody’s finger.
In conclusion, if you go to some event hereabouts and see a sawed-off funny looking older fellow with a large head, no butt and reading glasses, and he’s standing by himself, and he’s covered in wood shavings with toilet paper stuck to his shoes and his zipper halfway up, chances are he’s an aging hack weekly newspaper editor on assignment. It’s how we roll.
2. Building forts out of couch cushions. I won’t pretend to speak for all aging hack weekly newspaper editors but there inevitably comes a time when one begins to feel the urge to make a newsroom fort out of couch cushions so I can hide in it. It’s part of the aging process.
Naturally, one of the drawbacks to downsizing office space to save money is that we at the BCN don’t have a newsroom anymore, nor do we have any couches, or cushions. That means bringing couch cushions from home, and that’s a bad idea because it inevitably brings wives into it and most wives tend to notice when all the couch cushions are missing. She might forgive you if you tell her you lost them but hell is likely to have no fury like a woman whose couch cushions have been requisitioned to make a fort.
3. Clothing. Sadly, at this time a job in weekly newspapers requires one to wear clothing. This could change at some point – I’ve attended zoom meetings where I don’t think any of us had pants on (I certainly didn’t) – but I doubt it. Besides, us weekly newspaper hacks are held to a higher standard if we want to get paid.
And that’s too bad. Like you, the older I get the more I’m inclined to go modified- naked. That’s naked where you aren’t wearing any clothes but you do conform to current fashion trends and put on a baseball cap because, well, everybody wears a baseball cap – even if they never played baseball. And maybe socks. Black ones, if you’re from up north.
And some bug spray. And sunscreen. And maybe a budgie smuggler, if you’re bashful.
4. You can’t get here from there, or there from here, or anywhere from anywhere without driving, and that gives hack editors like me the collywobbles.
One of the things I’ve whined most about over the course of my long second act as a newspaper hack has been the proliferation of traffic hereabouts. It’s gone from occasionally frustrating in the 1980s to the downright scary in the 2020s. And every time a road gets widened salt-of-the-earth developers get loans from bankers to go stick up more subdivisions and strip malls and boom, there’s another 75,000 cars on the road. Some say that’s a good problem to have, but I don’t think so.
What would be a good problem to have is my having too much money in the bank, not getting run over on Highway 204 every afternoon by some bug-eating, vape sucking lunatic with a driver’s license running late for happy hour at the trailer park.
5. Oh, and life’s absurd. I’m proof of that. So, remember to memento mori and carpe diem and illegitum non carbondum and don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow. The world might actually be a better place if we got a little less done.